In case you haven’t heard, IBM just announced a new solution: IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager for Software Defined Infrastructure.

The announcement materials for the solution are here. But what exactly does this mean? Starting in the PowerVC 1.4.0 release, several key “software defined infrastructure” features become available.

So let’s back up; what exactly is software defined infrastructure? At a high level, it’s about giving you flexibility in building your infrastructure – letting you choose the network, storage, and compute that fits your workload – and tying that into a unified console.

You you saw us start down this path with software defined networking (SDN) in 1.3.2, then in PowerVC 1.3.3 there was a Software Defined Storage (SDS) technical preview. And now there’s more…

Software Defined Storage

Starting in PowerVC 1.4.0, we will be taking the functions that were available in the 1.3.3 Tech Preview and making them generally available. The software defined storage support integrated IBM Spectrum Scale and allowed users to build clouds with local disks. Replication of data (for resiliency) happened over the Ethernet across the servers. What’s more is that PowerVC hid all of the cluster creation, optimization, and management as part of its host registration flow.

Along side your existing Fibre Channel based infrastructure, you could also build a cloud with SAN-like capabilities using just Ethernet.

But with PowerVC 1.4, we needed to go further. There are a couple of key enhancements, and we’ll dive into these in a future blog. But at a high level, we also allow users to use SDS to build an iSCSI or Fibre Channel backed storage cluster. This allows users that have an existing SAN, which may be iSCSI only, to take advantage of SDS. They can connect disks from that SAN to PowerVC and the system will build a storage cluster on top of it. This gives you tremendous flexibility – local disks, iSCSI or FC – PowerVC has you covered. This is all in addition to the robust storage features PowerVC has with its integrated Fibre Channel drivers as well.

PowerVC will also automate updating the Spectrum Scale across the cloud for you. This links in with our host maintenance feature and makes upgrading the backing cluster easy!

Software Defined Networking

Hopefully, many PowerVC users are aware of its software defined networking support. This support allows users to take advantage of a wide array of capabilities, such as overlay networks (vxlan), network nodes, external IP addresses, etc.

This is about empowering administrators to move quickly. You can now create virtual networks on the fly, giving each project or user their own private IP space. Admins can then connect those virtual networks with the Wide Area Network through the network nodes. There is offload acceleration with vxlan capable cards, reducing the CPU impact and speeding up the line rate.

PowerVM and OpenPOWER Support

PowerVC has always had deep support for PowerVM. These SDI features are enabled through our NovaLink feature within PowerVM.

Starting in PowerVC 1.4, we are adding integrated OpenPOWER support. At a high level, it means that you can bring your OpenPOWER servers (such as IBM S822LC’s) and manage them within the same portal as your PowerVM environment. This means that a single PowerVC install can manage both ecosystems.

The support for OpenPOWER is through KVM. But we allow you to bring your own KVM hypervisor – starting with Ubuntu 16.04. What’s more, OpenPOWER and PowerVM can co-exist in the same PowerVC. Much the same way your existing infrastructure can co-exist with SDS and SDN.

And to top it off, our SDN and SDS support allows for a wide variety of hardware configurations to be supported. Basically, if it is a Power System – PowerVC can manage it!

Now, one thing to note though is that our OpenPOWER support does require the use of software defined infrastructure. This is how we open the door to supporting so much hardware effectively and efficiently. This means that IBM Spectrum Scale is required, but don’t let that worry you…

The new SDI Bundle

PowerVC 1.4.0 brings with it a new ‘bundle’ offering. This offering is called “IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager for Software Defined Infrastructure”. This offering is a per socket offering that entitles you to:
– IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager – The full PowerVC edition with the Self Service portal built in
– 2 TB of IBM Spectrum Scale Data Management Edition

This covers all of the entitlement needed for the cloud management stack. Bring your own hypervisor (such as PowerVM or KVM).

As an example, let’s say you have five Power systems that are each two sockets. You would need ten licenses (as there are ten sockets). This would enable you to use PowerVC (with Self Service) on all of the nodes, and up to 20 TB of storage. If additional storage is needed, there is also the ability to increase the storage entitlement through Spectrum Scale.

Servers that are not making use of SDI do not need Spectrum Scale entitlement. And if you already have entitlement to Spectrum Scale Data Management edition, that can be used directly with Cloud PowerVC Manager. This bundle is simply there to make it easy to obtain the necessary SDI components for your cloud stack, if you don’t already have them.

Wrap Up

The PowerVC team is very proud of the work done here, and it is really just the tip of the iceberg with PowerVC 1.4.0. There will be deep dives on each of these topics, as well as the other features that come with 1.4.0. But what’s important is that if you need unified management of Power Servers, you now have it. Upgrading to PowerVC 1.4.0 opens up a door of new possibilities to you. When paired with IBM Spectrum Scale, you gain tremendous flexibility.

If you’re curious to actually see the proof though, here you go:

Thanks again to the team here. Great work – local disks, iSCSI/FC-backed Scale clusters, OpenPOWER KVM support and unified management. And that’s just the SDI side of PowerVC’s 1.4 enhancements. There is a lot to be proud of here.

2 comments on"PowerVC and Software Defined Infrastructure"

  1. Stephan Åkeborg January 18, 2018

    When could I expect PowerVC use existing Spectrum Scale cluster connectivity, ie where I have configured a cluster and made PowerVC part of it?

  2. Drew Thorstensen January 22, 2018

    That is something that we are evaluating and can not yet provide an ETA. In this GA, the focus was to make the Spectrum Scale transparent (ex. users don’t need to interact with Spectrum Scale except to point PowerVC to the installer) and to enable building SAN-less clouds. This request however seems like a natural progression.

    I would ask that you submit a Request for Enhancement (RFE) so that we can formally track this and have other users vote on its priority:

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