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Summarizing IBM’s PureFlex Systems Fall Update

In the spring of 2012, IBM® introduced its PureSystems family of intelligent, integrated, powerful and flexible computing systems and committed to a continuing process of improvement and additions to these systems as technology and innovation evolved. Following up on that commitment, IBM is announcing enhancements and updates to IBM PureFlex™ System and IBM Flex System™ Manager demonstrating the reality of that commitment. Announcement highlights include:

For the IBM PureFlex™ System and IBM Flex System elements:

- Added chassis-integrated high availability storage (Flex System V7000),
- Added IBM Flex System Storage Expansion node to increase storage capacity
- Added IBM PureFlex Systems with p260 (POWER 7+), x440 and x220 compute nodes,
- Refreshed IBM Flex System p260 with Power 7+ to increase performance,
- Added p460, p260 (Power7) and p24L (PowerLinux) compute nodes as Flex Systems    elements (previously only available in PureFlex Systems),
- Added multiple network switches to increase flexibility, enhance scalability, speed   thruput and improve performance,
- Added IBM Flex System PCIe Expansion node increasing power, agility and redundance for higher reliability, better performance and maximizing expansion options.

For IBM® Flex System Manager™ v1.2 (FSM) enhancements:

- Supports for all the newly announced hardware,
- Rapid deployment and bare-metal install of operating system and hypervisors,
- Remote systems management monitoring apps for smartphones (iPhone, Android and Blackberry),
- Setup wizards for faster initial installation,
- Single, integrated interface for the steps and workflows used for device configuration and updating.

At no extra cost, all FlexSystems include the new version of management software, including the. Additional details appear in our updated whitepaper at www.ptaknoel.com.

PureFlex System versions IBM PureFlex Systems come in Express, Standard and Enterprise versions with varying software and resource capacities. The basic rack, chassis, chassis switches, FSM hardware, storage hardware, compute nodes, adaptors and Mezzanine (Mezz) cards are the same. The basic operating system, management and Smart Cloud Entry software are the same.

Express option is a basic, entry level configuration with limited power, basic management and other software included. TOR (Top-of-Rack) switches for Ethernet and Fibre channel are available if additional chassis are purchased. Standard Flex System Manger software is included. Real-Time Compression and Smart Cloud Entry software are optional. Three days of Lab Services and one year of software maintenance are included.

Extensions for additional capacity and functionality in storage, networking and software are available. Standard option adds power, storage and networking device options as well as software with more functionality. Advanced Flex System Manager is included with more extensive functionality. Real Time Compression and Smart Cloud Entry are included but can be turned off. TOR switches for Ethernet and Fibre channel are available for multi chassis configurations. Five days of Lab Services and three years of software maintenance are included. Options exist for adding capacity and functionality in storage, networking and software.

The Enterprise option adds power supplies and fans. TOR switches for Ethernet and Fibre channel are included as is Advanced Flex System Manager software with more functionality. Lab Services are for 7 days. It includes the Real Time Compression and Smart Cloud Entry software. Software maintenance is for three years. Additional capacity and functionality in storage, networking and software is available.

Flex System elements are the basic building blocks of the IBM PureFlex system. These are for those who want to build, integrate and tune a customized environment. New processors added include the Flex System p260 with a 2-socket POWER7+ processor, available with 8- and 16-cores. A 30% power boost and increased processing speed doubles the number of potential VMs supported per core while width, density and energy use is the same as existing p260 nodes. Other new elements include p460, p260 (Power7) and p24L compute nodes.

The Flex System V7000 storage system now fits into the FSM chassis. It can operate alone or with external storage units.

Flex System Flash supports applications 3 that require Flash disk speeds and capacities and meets RAID 5/6 and non-raided high throughput demands. Network switch and device enhancements include support for QBG, virtual switch (Osiris) and Mezzanine cards. IBM Flex System Manager includes management for port profiles, configuration and fabric optimization for the new devices. Tightly integrated infrastructure management moves the focus from managing individual components to managing the complete infrastructure to satisfy the business requirements of service delivery. The result is
workload placement and provisioning for optimal performance.

IBM Flex System Manager enhancements

This release integrates workflows for device configuration and updates into a single interface. Security management is centralized with single user account and password repository that extends across multiple chassis and compute nodes. Smartphone and mobile devices can remotely access, monitor and execute management functions.

The new user-interface provides a multi-chassis view for integrated management and control across all physical and virtualized resource. Improved chassis maps provide real-time views of the on status and health of embedded and external storage devices and other resources.

Flexibly defined management domains means systems and resources are managed as integrated entities. Resource domains, e.g. of storage or network devices, can be managed as a single entity for configuration, provisioning, optimization, etc. Configuration Patterns speed time to value with pre-defined, automated implementation of policy-based configurations for systems, devices or resource classes.

IBM Flex System Manager’s full integration and interoperation with IBM’s extended software portfolio. See the full whitepaper here. It will also work with other major systems management solutions. There is no need to ‘rip ‘n replace’ existing hardware or software assets.

Summarizing PureFlex System (and Flex System) improvements and benefits include:

- Increased memory capacity supports more virtualization,
- Increased network bandwidth by up to 2x previously,
- 3 times more dedicated storage fit in compute nodes (up to 8 400 GB SSDs),
- Containing node-to-node traffic inside the chassis cuts network latency by 50%.
- Intelligent data placement across all storage,
- Integrated management across all resources,
- Workload optimization across both POWER and x86 environments,
- Increased automation combines with virtual resource pooling to accelerate deployment.
- Summarizing IBM Flex System Manager benefits include:
- Resource pooling with integrated management that monitors and controls within and across chassis and racks means workload placement and resource utilization is optimized for top performance,
- Built-in intelligent management of virtualized infrastructure assures optimal utilization and minimizes service disruptions/outages due to overloaded resources.
- Automating configuration management for networks and servers reduces the time to provision, configure and deploy assets to adapt to changing environment conditions and shifting business priorities.
- Simplified security through centralization,
- Simplified implementation with configuration patterns and bare metal deployment,
- Automated population and maintenance of a library of virtualized assets further reduces the time to respond when capacity is needed to meet demand and balance workloads.

IBM Expert integrated systems are designed to be known for three things:
1. Built-in expertise
2. Integration by design
3. Simplified Experience
We believe that they are delivering on these in an exceptional manner.

*Richard Ptak is an analyst expert for Ptak, Noel & Associates