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Google now offers IBM Power Systems as a service on its cloud platform, in a move that could make it more attractive for large-scale enterprise applications such as SAP, as well as AI and machine learning workloads.
The IBM Power Systems service is integrated with Google's Cloud Marketplace and billing system. Customers can also use Google Cloud's Private API Access capabilities. These provide a higher level of security, while also lowering latency between the IBM Power servers and VMs running on Google Compute Engine, in support of mixed workloads.
The IBM Power chip architecture "is the Swiss Army knife of acceleration" for demanding, memory-intensive workloads such as SAP HANA and machine learning, said Patrick Moorhead, founder and president of Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.
IBM Power chip-based systems' advanced throughput make them a target for consolidating servers and thereby simplifying management, Moorhead added: "It's 100% not a mainframe, but you can consolidate multiple x86 servers because of the I/O."
Google serves as the single point of contact for support. It is selling the IBM Power Systems service via monthly subscription, with two instance sizes available for now.
A Starter Cloud option includes 16 cores, 160 GB of RAM and 12 TB of storage; it's priced at $7,500 a month. The second instance type, Small Cloud, has 36 cores, 768 GB of RAM and 72 TB of storage, and costs $27,000 a month. Custom configurations are also a possibility, according to Google.
Google, IBM foreshadowed Power move
The IBM Power Systems announcement was a long time coming for Google, which has designed and built systems using Power-based chips since 2013 through the OpenPower Foundation initiative, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT in Hayward, Calif.
Charles KingPrincipal analyst, Pund-IT
"This new effort involves making IBM-built systems available through Google Cloud Platform (GCP), so it's a pretty large step for both companies," King said. "It's clear evidence of IBM's commitment to supporting customers' hybrid cloud service and solution needs. Plus, it should raise the profile of GCP among enterprise customers."
Meanwhile, Google Cloud is viewed as a strong player in AI and machine learning, and has sought to build its SAP hosting business, evidenced in part by last year's hire of longtime SAP sales chief Robert Enslin.
ERP workloads are considered some of the most critical ones for cloud vendors, given their scope, stickiness and tendency to be integrated with a customer's other business applications.
AWS and Microsoft have made moves of their own to attract SAP workloads. All three companies hope to capitalize as SAP customers, most of which remain on older versions than the current S4/HANA edition, move into the cloud as part of their upgrade plans.
Although IBM is also keen to add more SAP workloads to its own cloud, this kind of partnership keeps some money flowing into its coffers, while giving customers choice, according to Moorhead. "You can go all in on IBM and then use Google Cloud for certain types of applications," he said.