IBM to power down Power-powered virtual private cloud, GPU-accelerated options

Customers given 80 days before instance deletion and the suggested replacement doesn't yet support Linux

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IBM has given users of its IBM Cloud Virtual Servers for VPC on Power 80 days to find a new home.

A Wednesday announcement from Big Blue advises it “has decided to consolidate its Power Systems offerings in the IBM Cloud.”

The IT giant right now offers two Power-powered cloud options. One is IBM Cloud Virtual Servers for VPC on Power, which includes extra networking smarts to build virtual private clouds, supports GPUs, and can run Linux. The other is IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers, which is closer to vanilla infrastructure-as-a-service, and runs AIX and IBM’s “i” operating systems.

Keen-eyed Reg readers will have noticed the omission of Linux on that Power Systems Virtual Servers list, which makes them less-than-brilliantly useful.

IBM has promised that IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers “will be expanding to include Linux later this year.” But it’s not said when that will happen, and that could mean uncomfortably tight migration deadlines for customers because existing Virtual Servers for VPC will be deleted on August 22, 2020. Which is 80 days from the date on which IBM posted its death notice.

That notice also advises customers that IBM’s soon-to-be-sole-remaining Power cloud doesn’t support GPUs, so Virtual Servers for VPC clients that want to keep using the accelerators in the Big Blue cloud will have to use its x86 offerings. Because porting workloads between different architectures, while maintaining performance and avoiding obscure bugs, is so very easy... not.

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Scalability is another casualty of this sudden announcement: no new orders for Virtual Servers for VPC are being taken.

IBM’s Power-powered clouds have had a difficult history. They debuted a year later than promised and then did not grow beyond a single Dallas-based data center for years.

But there’s clearly some demand for the Power architecture in the cloud, given that Google started offering it in January 2020, IBM has announced expansion plans for its remaining efforts, and some third parties offer either hosted Power or multi-tenant Power boxen for hire.

The Register understands that IBM’s cloud teams are excited by its Power cloud as an important differentiator for users of mission-critical applications – especially SAP – considering a cloudy migration. Those with on-prem Power will get the usual spiel of opex vs capex, the end of hardware maintenance, and easier scaling from the sales folk. Potential x86 refugees will be offered cloudy Power as an easier on-ramp to all the resilience and scalability the platform offers, with a promise that IBM can comfortably bring business logic and other customizations to its cloud.

Assuming there are any IBMers left to do that after it recently made extensive layoffs, seemingly deepest among staff with knowledge of older platforms. ®

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