Refresh your IBM Power landscape for rapid ROI – a case study on what’s possible

19th October 2021BlogTom Richards

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The benefits of being up to date with your IBM Power technology

For organisations that are lagging several generations behind the state-of-the-art, upgrading to the latest IBM Power technology can seem like an expensive option. But clinging to older hardware is often a false economy, because of the associated high maintenance and operational costs. Over time, these can easily outweigh the costs of financing new hardware on a typical 3- or 4-year refresh cycle.

As an IBM Platinum partner with Specialist status in IBM Power, Northdoor knows the finances in and out. We recently helped a client refresh their infrastructure, which gives us an opportunity to provide a real-life example of how our approach can help you save money by dramatically enhancing your capabilities.

By refreshing our client’s IBM Power and IBM Storage landscape, Northdoor delivered:

  • 25X reduction in storage latency at peak periods
  • 60% reduction in rack space requirements
  • hours-to-seconds reductions in system backup times
  • automated push-button failover capabilities
  • reduced time and effort in OS maintenance
  • 112% ROI over three years, rising to 179% over three years.

Of course, every client environment is different – but our experience suggests these kinds of benefits are within reach of many existing users of IBM Power. To find out what your organisation can achieve, contact Northdoor today to arrange a free Power TCO Study.

Refresh your IBM Power landscape for rapid ROI

Growing pains

This Northdoor client had been running its IBM Power environment for some years. Over that period, corporate acquisitions and organic grown had expanded the workload to the point where the DR server (based on IBM POWER5 processor technology) was no longer performant enough to run all critical systems in a failover scenario. Although all data was being backed up safely, the company targeted true business continuity, whereby operations could continue without interruption or performance degradation in the event of a production server failure. Such an arrangement would also enable deliberate role swaps between production and DR, to simplify scheduled patching and maintenance.

Recognising that the cost and complexity of maintaining outdated hardware and system software were continuing to rise, the company also aimed to reduce its TCO by investing in new hardware. The expectation was that new hardware would naturally offer greater reliability into the bargain.  As a related point, the company was uncomfortable with the risk of running a version of the IBM i operating system that was due to cease vendor support in the near future. 

Finally, the company aimed to optimise its backup and recovery procedures. The production Power server was being backed up to physical tape in the primary location, which required the system to be offline for several hours. As the company looked to extend its operations to support customer demands, this enforced downtime was becoming an increasingly unacceptable blocker to potential sales. Equally, the plan was to move from on-premises servers to a co-location facility, which would increase the challenges and risks of handling physical tapes.

The Northdoor approach

Northdoor provided experienced and certified consultants to fully understand the client’s challenges and determine the likely requirements in the years to come. We sampled the system load and performance during peak sales periods such as Black Friday, and analysed this data to size the future Power landscape.

The Northdoor proposal was to replace the existing servers with two identically configured servers based on IBM POWER9 processors, each with an IBM FlashSystem 7200 all-flash storage array. Also within the new storage area network, we proposed two Virtual Tape Libraries with cross-site replication. Alongside the new IBM i7.3 operating system, we proposed IBM PowerHA Full System FlashCopy for high-speed backups and IBM PowerHA Full System Replication to enable rapid, automated failover.

We presented our findings to the client team, showing a step-by-step route from the current to the proposed future state, explaining how every potential challenge and obstacle would be overcome. We also completed a detailed study of the TCO of the current environment and analysed this against the projected costs for our proposed new environment.

IBM Power

Rapid ROI

Our detailed TCO Study showed the client that they could expect to more than recoup the cost of their investment in new hardware in less than three years: the return on investment (ROI) over three years was predicted to be 112%. What’s more, with costs for the existing landscape projected to rise sharply as more components went out of vendor support, the ROI for our proposed new environment was predicted to be 179% over five years. Based on the financial implications alone, our client was happy to engage Northdoor to deliver the solution.

With the migration complete, the client is also enjoying several important ancillary benefits. Performance is significantly better – unsurprisingly, as the POWER9 processors offer three generations of gains over the previous production environment. On the storage side, the switch to all-flash technology has delivered a staggering 25 times reduction in latency at peak periods, so that applications remain highly responsive at all times.

In the data centres, each location has seen a 82% reduction in footprint, with corresponding reductions in energy consumption and environmental impact. As the client has moved to co-located facilities, this more compact and efficient environment shrinks co-location costs significantly.

Enhanced backup and business continuity

Overall risk is now reduced because the client is using a supported version of the IBM i operating system. The Northdoor solution has also delivered on the client’s goals for more efficient backup and enhanced business continuity. The IBM PowerHA Full System FlashCopy technology can take a complete snapshot of the production environment in just seconds, eliminating the need to pause production systems for backup. The snapshots are then backed up offline.

With its new virtual tape library (VTL) technology, the company has significantly increased the speed of backup and can restore data instantaneously without needing to retrieve physical tapes from offsite storage. Data is automatically protected via replication to the second VTL. The solution also offers hardware-based compression and deduplication of data to increase the usable capacity.

For enhanced business continuity, PowerHA Full System Replication provides single-button role-swap capabilities, taking advantage of hardware replication technology built into the FlashSystem arrays. This also simplifies day-to-day operations, as the full replication of the Auxiliary Storage Pools (ASPs) means that there is no longer any need to triage out-of-synch objects.

Northdoor can optimise your on-premises IBM Power infrastructure and cut the costs. In the longer term, we can help you maintain that solution, adopt a hybrid-cloud approach, or migrate to a new platform. Click To Tweet

See what you could save with Northdoor

IBM Power remains a critically important platform for a large number of organisations. In many cases, that’s simply because it remains the optimal platform for enterprise workloads in terms of performance, availability, security, and manageability. In other cases, the organisation may need to run software that is difficult to migrate or unsupported on other platforms.

Whatever your ongoing need for IBM Power, Northdoor can help by optimising your infrastructure and cutting the costs. In the longer term, we can support you in maintaining that on-premises solution, in adopting a hybrid-cloud approach, or in migrating to a new platform. To see what you could save, contact us today for a free TCO Study of your existing Power landscape.

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