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Elastic Capacity on Demand Increases Flexibility


IBM recently enhanced its Capacity on Demand (CoD) offerings for the new POWER7+ 770 and 780 servers and updated POWER7 795 server. These enhancements provide new operational features and financial benefits. A closer look might change your perspective on CoD from a usage model for special circumstances to one for mainstream, day-to-day use.

Enterprise class Power Systems servers can be configured with CoD processor cores and memory that are readily available when needed. CoD resources can be enabled with:

  1. Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD permanent activation)
  2. Elastic CoD
  3. Utility CoD (cores only)
  4. Trial CoD

Elastic CoD

For this article, I’ll focus on the recent enhancements to Elastic CoD, which is a new name for what was previously called On/Off CoD. This name change is meant to emphasize the new features being offered.

Like On/Off CoD, Elastic CoD allows you to activate CoD resources in one processor core and 1 GB memory increments. Processor cores and memory can be activated independently of one another. To get started, Elastic CoD enablement keys must be entered at the Hardware Management Console (HMC). When these resources are needed, the desired amounts of processor cores or memory are activated via the HMC. Resource use must be reported to IBM monthly and is billed quarterly. The monthly reporting requirement can be automated through an HMC connected to IBM via Electronic Service Agent.

With the previous On/Off CoD implementation, the enablement keys permitted the use of up to 360 processor days and 999 GB memory days. Upon reaching one of these limits, a new enablement key had to be ordered. Some customers found themselves in a situation where they had to frequently re-order enablement keys. For example, if you were to activate 16 cores for a temporary project, 360 processor days would be consumed in just 22 days. Likewise, if you activated 64 GB of memory, it would take just 15 days to reach the 999 GB memory days permitted.

A new 90-day Elastic CoD offering provides the ability to activate all CoD processor cores and memory for a full 90-days per enablement key. This will eliminate the requirement to frequently reorder the enablement keys for heavy users of CoD resources.

Credits

Elastic CoD credits are a new feature available with the purchase of new 780+ and 795 servers. As part of the server purchase, IBM will provide a quantity of no-charge, temporary processor core days and GB memory days to be used at your discretion. Potential uses include: addressing processing peaks, setting up temporary virtual servers, workload balancing, or disaster recovery (DR). The CoD credits are immediately available whenever you need them. There’s no need to submit a request for temporary activation keys. Here are some highlights of the Elastic CoD credits offering:

  • Credits are included with the original purchase of a new Model 780 (9179-MHD) or Model 795 (9119-FHB) server.
  • The servers must be running system firmware level 7.6 or higher.
  • A credit of 15 Elastic On/Off processor days and 240 GB memory days will be provided for each installed processor core that’s purchased. Both active and CoD processor cores qualify as installed processors. The credit is held “on-account” by IBM.
  • To acquire and make use of the credits, a temporary CoD contract must be in place with IBM. This contract has two primary requirements: Elastic CoD usage must be reported to IBM monthly, and Usage will be reconciled quarterly. Once all credits have been consumed, an invoice will be generated for additional use.
  • Here’s an example for a Model 780 system ordered with 32 processor cores installed and 16 processor core activations. The credits provided are:

    • 32 installed cores times 15 core days per core equals 480 available processor days
    • 32 installed cores times 240 GB memory days per core equals 7,680 GB memory days

    Note that the 16 processor-core activations are not relevant to the amount of credits provided.

    Power System Pools

    The Power System Pools feature is also available for use with new Model 780+ and 795 servers. Designed to assist customers with planned maintenance events, the feature enables you to redistribute your processor and memory activations across a pool of 780 and 795 servers during an event. This is an enhanced version of the former PowerFlex offering for Model 795 servers. The following are some configuration and operational rules that apply to Power System Pools:

    • The pool can consist of any combination of up to 10 780 and 795 servers running system firmware 7.6 or higher.
    • At least 50 percent of the total amount of installed processors and memory within the server pool must be permanently activated.
    • You’re permitted to have eight planned maintenance events per year.
    • All of the servers within a pool are permitted to participate in each event.
    • AIX and IBM i cannot be intermixed within the same pool.
    • Each maintenance event can last up to seven days, after which, all processor and memory resources must be returned to their previous state.
    • Requests for a maintenance event must be submitted to IBM at least two business days prior to planned usage.

    Power System Pools can make it much easier to conduct planned maintenance events with no application downtime. Once the temporary activation keys are entered at the HMC, the Live Partition Mobility (LPM) feature of PowerVM can be used to migrate LPARs off of the servers requiring maintenance. Note that this feature is not intended to be part of a DR scenario due to the two-business-day requirement to acquire the temporary activation keys.

    Reconsider CoD

    IBM’s new 90-day Elastic CoD enablement feature, no-charge CoD credits and Power System Pools features offer ways to get creative with CoD implementations. Use of these new features can improve operational flexibility and provide financial savings.

Charlie Cler supports customers in a solutions-architect role at Forsythe Technology Inc. He can be reached at ccler@forsythe.com.


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