PowerVC 1.3.3 was just released on June 23rd, 2017—its ninth major release since its debut back in the Spring of 2013. I have had the honor and great pleasure of working on PowerVC since its inception and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the cool things that we’ve collectively (IBMers, our business partners, and most importantly, our valued customers) accomplished over the past four years.

The Early Days

When we started this journey in early 2013, we all knew that we had an awesome platform—Power Systems—at our fingertips. But something was missing—we needed something to simplify day-to-day operations for virtual administrators—something to make deploying virtual machines (VMs) and managing the daily minutia just plain simple. So, we embarked on a journey, working hand-in-hand with our customers, gathering requirements, understanding the pain points… ultimately to build an amazing virtualization management platform poised for the future… and PowerVC [Standard Edition] was born!

Because Power Systems were “open by design” at the hardware level [with the OpenPOWER Foundation], we wanted to echo those guiding principles all the way up the stack and into our management suite. So, we picked OpenStack as the underpinnings for PowerVC to give us an open, cloud-centric platform on top of which to build (and we’ve loved being members of the OpenStack community—contributing to open software that gives our customers choice in the marketplace).

We spent the first two years largely focusing on features such as simplified VM deployment, importing the existing infrastructure (read: we didn’t want to assume a greenfield deployment), one-click system evacuation, automated network provisioning, advanced VM placement policies, automated VM recovery, dynamic resource optimization (DRO), and so much more! We were also laser focused on supporting a wide range of storage options so that we could seamlessly integrate into nearly any Power Systems data center (and we continue to focus on this even to this day).

Poised for the Cloud

We toured the globe, talking with customers from a variety of industries, sharing the vision of PowerVC… and it was very well received. So, there we were—it was early in 2015, POWER8 had recently been released, and we knew that we were on to something special with PowerVC. We knew this was a product that our customers would come to heavily rely upon to take their Power Systems infrastructure into the next era, so we knew we needed to continue innovating for the future—and that’s where the concepts originated for both PowerVM NovaLink (NovaLink for short) and a cloud edition of PowerVC (officially known as IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager).

Let’s talk about NovaLink for a moment. While it started out as a focused effort to ensure that the Power Systems management infrastructure could scale horizontally, it has also significantly widened the aperture for future platform innovations (more on that later). With the addition of a lightweight, Linux-based VM (i.e., the “NovaLink” VM) running on every Power Systems host, we were able to distribute the OpenStack services (i.e., the Nova, Neutron and Ceilometer agents—all of which have been publicly open sourced) and realize an OpenStack-aligned architecture; this also furthered our “platform of choice” by allowing Power Systems to be managed via either (a) native OpenStack components (e.g., Horizon); or (b) the IBM-provided solution, PowerVC. NovaLink made its public debut in December 2015 and continues to expand its scope well beyond platform scalability, fueling new innovations such as software defined networking and software defined storage [by leveraging its Linux roots].

At this point, we were heading into 2016 and knew the next step of our journey needed to include a concerted effort on enabling seamless private cloud management for our users (read: a self-service portal was needed). Up to this point, we had been [intentionally] focused on the virtualization administrator persona and streamlining their day-to-day activities, but we needed to broaden our horizons and create an effective way for developers, QA engineers, line-of-business users, etc. to deploy workloads. This persona likely does not know (or care to know) any details of the underlying infrastructure—they just want to request a VM and within minutes, be able to start developing and testing their applications. In June of 2016, we answered this call with IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager, the OpenStack-based, enterprise grade, multi-tenant capable, self-service portal for Power Systems. Now administrators could allocate infrastructure [in a controlled, policy-based fashion] to end users in a self-service manner, creating a “win-win” situation for both the cloud administrators and cloud users.

Present Day

Now let’s fast forward to present day. We’ve got the perfect duo—awesome hardware with an awesome virtualization and cloud management stack with PowerVC. Additionally, our adoption of open technologies has created numerous technology options for the Power Systems platform. For example, you can integrate VMware vRealize Automation with PowerVC and provision Power Systems right alongside the rest of your infrastructure or you can plug Power Systems right into an existing OpenStack footprint; it’s all about choice!

Additionally, PowerVC has skyrocketed in terms of customer adoption over the last 12-18 months, which is both a testament to its enterprise readiness and a strong commitment from our valued customers, to the Power Systems platform! We have thousands of worldwide installs that span every industry, including retail, financial, healthcare and government… and it continues to grow.

What’s Next?

While we have undoubtedly covered tremendous ground over the last four years, there are still a lot of innovations to come. We are embarking on a new era of computing, the Cognitive Era, one that will change the course of many industries. Machine learning and deep learning are becoming increasingly important; there are so many unlocked insights in the world’s data—insights that will lead to significant advances in nearly every industry. These advances will require a platform poised for the future; it will require a robust hardware platform [with accelerated hardware capabilities], a vibrant software ecosystem (i.e., one with AI frameworks and unprecedented database choice and performance) and the surrounding management tools. Guess what? That platform is, without a doubt, IBM Power Systems! Look for PowerVC to continue simplifying and streamlining the complex processes that go hand-in-hand with managing a IT estate and simplifying the lives of not only the administrators, but also application developers. And yes, we will continue to add support for additional storage devices. 🙂

To end on a serious note, we have thoroughly enjoyed building PowerVC and working with folks across the globe; we hope you have enjoyed using PowerVC (and if you haven’t tried it, give it a shot today)! It’s been such an exciting time for Power Systems and we look forward to continuing this unprecedented journey of innovation with you—THANK YOU to all of our customers!

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