It was only a matter of time

IBM taps OpenPOWER for SoftLayer bare-metal service

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IBM is a big backer of the OpenPOWER open-source hardware project. And it’s the company behind the SoftLayer cloud, so it was only a matter of time before it put the two together by offering SoftLayer bare-metal servers on OpenPOWER-based hardware.

The new service will come online in the second quarter, when pricing details will be made available.

Big Blue launched the OpenPOWER alliance in August 2013 to breathe new life into its POWER8 chip franchise. At that time the only vendor relying on those chips was, um, IBM.

The company managed to line up some big names, including [company]Google[/company], to back this effort. A Google spokeswoman at the time said that OpenPOWER hardware could become an option for use in Google data centers.  [company]Nvidia[/company], Tyan and [company]Mellanox[/company] also backed the OpenPOWER play.

In October, [company]IBM[/company] rolled out a new server built on the POWER8 processor and Nvidia’s GPU accelerator.

While most cloud workloads rely heavily on virtualization to pack more jobs onto less hardware, bare metal servers offer great raw performance (without the virtualization tax). Because the entire computing resource is dedicated to that job, performance can be excellent but the deployment model can be less flexible than virtualized workloads. IBM SoftLayer has offered bare metal capabilities for some time, and last year started offering that option for by the hour.

IBM’s OpenPOWER move comes at a time when name-brand (pricey) servers from IBM, [company]HP[/company] and [company]Oracle[/company][company] are under attack by low-cost white-box providers. Big web scale companies like Facebook and Google do not buy these branded boxes, instead opting to hire contract providers to build servers to their specs. OpenPOWER is an effort to counter that trend.

2 Responses to “IBM taps OpenPOWER for SoftLayer bare-metal service”

  1. Steve Ardire

    @OpenPOWERorg looks pretty weak compared to Intel and ARM cloud ecosystems and Google is only big name player and not a big backer. And have you asked where is Apple ;-)

    • Anything looks weak compared to Intel ecosystem for cloud/datacenters – they own the enterprise space. But ARM only barely has a cloud ecosystem, and it has lost much of its momentum when 64bit ARM procs slated for release in 2014 got delayed into 2015. So I think you will see – many of those that supported ARM for cloud will also be supporting OpenPower (which is based on a platform that actually has real product shipping since 2014).

      At this point, Google is probably not the most important backer. They are interested in adopting the hardware, but I don’t know if they are doing anything to help build the ecosystem for OpenPower.

      As for Apple, um…wrong space.