OpenPOWER Gets Cloud Vote of Confidence from Rackspace

The use of OpenPOWER systems in cloud computing environments got a major boost today via an announcement from Rackspace is joining the OpenPOWER Foundation.

Mike Vizard, Contributing Editor

December 18, 2014

2 Min Read
Rackspace is joining the OpenPOWER Foundation
Rackspace is joining the OpenPOWER Foundation.

The use of OpenPOWER systems in cloud computing environments got a major boost today via an announcement from Rackspace is joining the OpenPOWER Foundation.

Aaron Sullivan, senior director and distinguished engineer, infrastructure strategy at Rackspace, said that after an extensive period of evaluation, Rackspace has determined that servers based on the Power processors originally developed by IBM will be deployed alongside x86 servers in its data centers.

Because of the ability to run more application workloads and virtual machines more efficiently by accessing more processing cores, Sullivan says that Rackspace will be deploying Power servers in support of variety of distributions of Linux. While at one point Power processors were optimized primarily for database workloads, Sullivan said that IBM in cooperation with the rest of the OpenPower Foundation has greatly improved that ability to deploy Power servers alongside x86 servers using a common management framework.

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The latest generation of Power processors, added Sullivan, are also well-suited for emerging classes of micro-services based on containers. Those container applications are typically looking for server platforms that have high core counts and smaller memory footprints, said Sullivan.

Since earlier this year forming the OpenPower Foundation, which now consists of 80 members, IBM and its allies have been making the case for using Power servers as an alternative to x86 servers. Included among those converts is Google, which is building its own servers using Power processors to support certain classes of application workloads inside its data centers. In addition, IBM is deploying Power servers alongside x86 server inside the IBM SoftLayer cloud.

While x86 server will continue to dominate cloud computing environments for some time to come, there’s no doubt that Power-based systems are being taken more seriously by cloud service providers. Previous generation of Power processors had little in common with x86 server platforms. But as both processor technologies have evolved it’s become a lot easier to deploy manage servers based on both processor architectures.  As part of that effort, the OpenPOWER Foundation has also formed a 25G IO Interoperability Group that specifically addresses interoperability, allowing different server component technologies to work together using the same physical interfaces.

Obviously, cloud service providers have a vested interest in keep Intel honest, which is one reason many of them are investing in Power processors. But the other thing that’s worth remembering is that the first generation of the cloud was pretty much characterized by the movement of existing operating systems from data center running on premise into a third-party data center. The next generation of cloud computing will be based on operating environments specifically designed for the cloud. Once that occurs it might be anybody’s server ballgame from there.

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About the Author(s)

Mike Vizard

Contributing Editor, Penton Technology Group, Channel

Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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