IBM i Architect Steve Will and Offering Manager Alison Butterill talk about the performance enhancements available with the latest POWER processor.
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Claire Walling: Hi, I'm Claire Walling. I'm the managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine Power Systems edition, and I'm here with Steve Will, the chief architect of IBM i and Alison Butterill, the offering manager for IBM i. Thank you so much for being here with me. I want to start off by talking a little bit about COMMON, PowerUp 18 and the IBM i anniversary and what IBM is doing to recognize that.
Alison Butterill: Sure. I'll start. Here at COMMON we are celebrating our 30th anniversary with COMMON. It's―actually the energy is really high. We're very pleased with the reception that we're getting here. We've been doing a lot of building with COMMON towards our theme of really being future thinking, forward thinking, so along that line we have been doing a lot of presentations on future technologies like Watson and artificial intelligence. We've been spending a lot of time talking about what's possible for our clients to do. Steve, did you want to add something?
Steve Will: The energy around here has been really good. Our stories that we've been collecting from clients related to the 30th anniversary are all about how clients are succeeding. And of course everybody who has come here has either come of their own or because their bosses want to move the platform forward and they want their folks who are here to learn things that will help them do that, and so I think they're eager for this sort of story to be told. And the fact that we have so many stories that we can tell has really made it very powerful and positive experience for us.
Claire: So Steve, you alluded to the 30-customer stories experience that IBM is doing as part of the 30th anniversary. Could you give everyone watching this just a little bit of a snippet into what is being told in that?
Sure, and it turns out that it's more than 30 stories because there are so many customers who wanted in on this, so that's great. We heard that people after our keynote address this morning come up and say "hey, I would like to do a story as well." We tried to do stories that sort of typified what's happening for these customers who are adopting the technology like the open-source customer stories that we have folks who are doing open technology to bring in, for example, 3-D imaging on IBM i and then feeding that into a manufacturing line that is being driven all by IBM i, robots and things that you wouldn't necessarily think of from the days of 1988, back 30 years ago, but can all be easily integrated on IBM i today. So those are the kinds of customer stories with open-source or Cloud technology that we want to make sure people know they can succeed doing.
Alison: I think the other main thing that I wanted to talk about with customer stories is almost all the customers we've talked about are talking about how they're growing with business. Businesses are growing. They are accumulating, sometimes acquiring new other businesses, sometimes just growing their own business, and IBM i has been able to grow along with them. So we have talked to a lot of customers from all over the world who wanted to tell us about how they've grown, and in some cases doubled and tripled their size in the last couple of years, and IBM i has been able to accommodate all of that growth.
Steve: One of the stories that we have out on the website and didn't use in our keynote presentation today was about a drug manufacturer and distributor in Egypt who specifically chose us as a platform, chose IBM i as a platform in early to mid 2000s because they wanted to plan for growth, and the platform they were on just wasn't going to be able to scale. So they joined us, took our technology when they were sort of young, and now they're huge. They've been able to scale on POWER9 on IBM i and they have no reason to believe they won't be able to run their business forever as they continue to grow bigger and bigger.
Claire: Great. So you talked about those coming into COMMON, and of course there has been a lot of buzz this year about POWER9. Can you talk a little bit about what the advantages are for IBM i customers to consider migrating?
Alison: Well certainly right off the top there is a performance advantage, and we estimate somewhere, depending on the workload, somewhere around 1.5, 1.6 times more performance. So that's the obvious choice. There are other advantages to moving to the most current technology though because there are other things that the technology drives, like I/O capabilities and all of those things, not just processor speed. And again, it depends on the workload for the customer but for most customers they will see a significant performance benefit. On top of that, there is some added financial benefits to moving to the most current hardware because you do get a maintenance window―I think they call it a warranty period―and so those things are also advantageous. But I think for every customer―certainly we wish they would all move to POWER9―but they have to time that properly to understand whether it is the most financially viable and performance wise for each one of them. So building that business case is very really important I think.
Steve: The only thing I would add there is a that a lot of our clients skip generations of Power technology, and so while the 1.5-1.6 x from POWER8 to POWER9 is going to be important to some clients, those clients who are back on POWER7 are going to see, you know, compounded because POWER8 was that much better than POWER7 was. And when you're on POWER9, you're going to be using one of the more recent releases, 7.2 or 7.3, which now just comes with all of this open-source technology which will allow them to use that extra power that they have to do expanded workloads, things like we're talking about in the stories. If there was a client who was back on POWER7 that maybe they didn't have enough horsepower to be able to run their business as they are and add the ability to do global, add the ability to artificial intelligence, etc., well they're going to have plenty of horsepower to be able to do that on a POWER9 box.
Alison: Good point.
Claire: Speaking of new workloads like AI, can you talk a little bit about the advantages of using those for IBM i clients?
Alison: Well, so artificial intelligence I would say it comes in a variety of different ways. I actually like to group it all under cognitive, because cognitive is a number of different implementations. AI is one of them. So let's talk a little bit about cognitive overall and being able to expand your workload out and get different insights into your data, looking at data in a different way, perhaps pulling in information you couldn't get before. Like if you are Watson for example, pulling in weather information from the Weather Channel. These are advantages that the business has in increasing revenues, increasing information about their client base so they can do targeted campaigns, they could do targeted implementation of technology. We told a couple of stories this morning about―you know there's a company that has actually―it's an IBM partner who ships equipment around the continent of Australia―bigger than many people believe. It's quite a large island so as they ship equipment around, they're able to predict weather patterns and to know whether shipments of the equipment to their customers are going to be delayed because of weather. They can predict how long it will take, road construction, they know how long things take so they get a far better view of what―I'm sorry―deliver a far higher level of satisfaction to their customers because they predict what's really going to happen. Now it happens that they can still get through in a more timely manner and the weather hasn't interrupted, who is not happy to get something happy early? I mean they'd rather that than be late.
Steve: Another thing that we focused in a couple of our stories―and Alison knows part of this better just because she talked with this French company―but there are things in every IT environment that are not particularly difficult for people to do, but it takes a lot of time. So some of the technology, the machine learning technology that is available through our cognitive stuff and Watson allows you to do things like creating chat box that can be a help desk. There was a particular customer example; Alison could tell it better than I can.
Alison: Yeah. Wilbert in France. They actually attended an event, an IBM i event last year in Paris that was held by IBM for about 600 and some clients there, and one of the demos that we showed on stage in the main tent was about using Watson to do help desk function for IBM i clients. They did―at the time it was text that they entered in Watson, communicated back and forth with IBM i and they were able to demonstrate resetting a password. This company was sitting in the audience. They went back to their shop. They didn't tell anybody; they just went back to their shop and tried to implement this based on what they had heard and seen. They were this year at the same event in Paris and they were a reference. They got up on stage and showed what they had built, which was a help desk application. So it's freed up a lot of their sysadmins and the developers from answering questions like "can you reset my password?" and "answer this message." Instead Watson does that now and it's almost a self service kind of thing, but it does all of the integrity and security checking that you would want it to do, but it doesn't require somebody to do it. So they're not pulled out of their regular job and can be more productive.
Steve: When we talked last year, we spent a lot of time at this conference telling people about various ways cognitive might apply, and it's kind of cool to think about, well, your weather data might help your application. But if you can't see your way to that, almost all IT departments can understand the free up people's time from having to do this repetitive nature, you know, job. And that's what AI or cognitive is really going to provide for people first is this ability to do things that you'd rather not be doing anyway. You'd rather be thinking creatively or working hard on a new business plan or something like that. So I think this is one of those examples we need to make a little more obvious to people that they can get true business value and it doesn't replace the programmer, it frees the programmer up to do what the programmer wants to do.
Claire: Do you have any other examples of getting a time value from using Watson or another AI application?
Alison: We have a few, actually. The same company that I was talking about that is the business partner that distributes equipment around Australia, one of the things that they've done is they are a―they use a lot of email and just like all of us, like everyone in the world these days, we're inundated with email. One of the things they've done is figured out how to take their salespeople, the inbox from the salespeople, and they do what I would call tone analysis of email. Is the customer happy? Angry? Do they need a part? THE RECORDING SKIPS A BIT HERE. They use Watson's tone analysis, and they have to teach it, but they teach it about words and what to recognize and then reorders their inbox so the ones―the customers that are demanding the most attention get ordered at the top and so the salespeople every day know exactly who to call to keep their customers happy. So it saves them a lot of time, and I hate to say that they ignore the ones that are happy at the bottom, but the ones that are the most demanding are the ones they are going to be contacting first, as it should be.
Steve: The company, Jori, that is the manufacturer of luxury furniture―and we've told this story many times but some people haven't heard about it. In any case, they have the ability to, when a customer goes to their website, be able to have the customer design from the very beginning what their piece of furniture is going to look like, and by the time they're done with it, they're going to drive that through the manufacturing line. Well this saves everybody time and money. Customers are much less dissatisfied, therefore there are far fewer returns, therefore everybody is happier, faster, because they were involved from the beginning. And Alison told the part of the story that we're―they're about to incorporate this ability that Watson has to be able to determine what color of upholstery might go with the person who's ordering it for their room. And that's something that takes a customer time to do, go through 500 fabrics and figure which fabric do I want? Well yet again, if you are user and Watson can help you quickly get to something that makes you happy, you're going to buy more, right, and everybody is going to be happy.
Claire: Steve, earlier you mentioned timing in customers upgrading to POWER9, that some might even be coming from POWER7, and I believe there was a big announcement yesterday related to POWER9.
Steve: Yeah, so one of the things in Power as a platform is doing for us is helping us celebrate by having this 30th anniversary edition.
Alison: Right. The 30th Anniversary edition that we brought out yesterday is based on our IBM i Solution edition. It is specifically the S914 4-core box so, we're offering it only on that one. It comes with all of the software that a Solution edition would come with, so some licenses and code, a certain numbers of licenses, some at the solution edition price, some at a regular price, but it is prepackaged bundle. A regular Solution edition you must have spent $6.5K with an ISV, and it could be for services, it could be support, it could be software, but you need to have spent $6.5K in a 90-day window on hardware and you have to have spent it with one of our 165 registered ISVs. For the anniversary edition however, we're waiving that requirement for registration, so it means that anybody spending $6.5K with any ISV will qualify. On top of that we've added in all POWER9 boxes shipped with PowerVM so we are adding in the waiver for one year of PowerVM SMWA, so people won't have to pay for that. We've increased the trial period for IBM's Cloud storage solutions, which have been out about a year and half, I think. This is a piece software, a licensed program product that lets IBM i clients backup to the Cloud, and we have increased the trial period of that. Normal trial periods for software are 70 days. We're giving 180 days, so six months where people can really try it out and see if it's working in their environment. The last piece is―really again, with the whole theme we have around 30, which is looking forward―and that is really to provide education to our clients on Watson and integration of Watson and AI with their business applications and their business data. We're doing that by providing gift certificate for some education. It's interesting, almost all of the technologies that we supported and explored through our Watson work are already in the operating system. We already have those pieces of software. So when we were looking at something that would help promote this particular type of moving and integration with Watson, we had to come up with something that would allow our customers to get started. So it's almost like jump-start education: jump-start, understand what you can do so you can go and do it. This gift certificate idea came to us and Fresche was willing to get on board with us and they are providing some virtual education so it is available worldwide. Anybody can take it and the gift certificate gives them a discount on the prices of it.
Claire: Could you describe a little bit about what that education entails?
Alison: I can. It is―right now they have two full days of education that are planned, or two full modules is probably a better way to put it. Within each of the modules, they have six components in total, three for each of the modules. And the first set is specifically focused on integration of applications to Watson, so looking at RPG, looking at open-source and how that matches or connects up to Watson and some AI capabilities as well. The second day is all focused on data, so it's really looking at how does my data connect into Watson, and we're going to really focus on using the analytics capabilities. So how do I cleanse my data, how do I get it back to Watson, how do I use the response that comes back and gives me guidance on certain activities, on you know correlations in the data I hadn't expected. So two―two sets of education, three modules each―and I mean it's virtual so you can take it at various times and you can pick and choose.
Claire: Talking about POWER9 in general, what kind of resources does IBM have available to help clients migrate?
Alison: Well, I mean we always have migration services, Lab Services ?? TAPE SKIPS AGAIN migration practice, so we do have folks that can come on site and do migration. All of the POWER9 boxes comes with some services vouchers, which means clients can use those vouchers to get some Lab Services people on site to assist in the migration. And then we've got business partners. Our network of business partners is unbelievable. Our ecosystem is very, very strong with partners, and the partners have the ability to use those vouchers as well as the Lab Services team. So a partner could come on site and help you migrate from older Power Systems to a POWER9 box.
Steve: Yeah, that's key in our marketplace. We count on―part of our strategy is that we need to have strong partners who can do this, because something like a migration is not going to happen just from IBM. We need partners to get involved and fortunately we have great partners who provide extra value by helping clients do it quickly and so yeah, they're very important to us.
Claire: Do you have any examples of how lab services or partners have helped people migrate to POWER9 already particularly with early release customers?
Alison: I don't have any examples of customers off the top of my head other than to say we have a couple of partners here at COMMON who we've been talking to who have been doing migrations at a rapid rate as customers are seeing the advantages of POWER9. So as I said a couple of partners who are doing multiple a week migrations, even some from older technology not just POWER8 and POWER9 but even as far back as POWER5 migrations to POWER9, so they are rapidly moving clients ahead. I don't have any specific examples.
Claire: That about wraps up all the questions that I had. Do either of you have anything else to add?
Alison: The only thing I would say is we're really excited about the 30th year of IBM i and we're really excited about our theme of looking forward. Our clients need to know that we're going to around for a long time, and by all of the technologies that we're implementing in the system, they are able to take advantage of that and do some amazing things with our clients, with our technology. And as much as we innovate and Steve's team innovates, our clients innovate even more.
Steve: The only other thing I would mention is that the homepage for IBM i on ibm.com is a great place for people to start. If you've been listening to this and thinking "oh, I didn't know you could do that. I thought this platform couldn't do that sort of thing." Well there are lots of customer examples, lots of good information, business information about why it is great to be on IBM i. It all starts there.
Claire: Great. Thank you so much, Steve and Alison.
Alison: Thanks Claire.
Steve: You're welcome.
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Steve Will on why the supercomputer is relevant to IBM i clients.
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Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. So it is very rare that I actually get to do interviews in person with people. It is even rarer that I get to do an interview with somebody in my home studio―aka, AKA my kitchen here in Dublin, Ireland. So Steve Will, welcome back to iTalk and more importantly, welcome to Ireland.
Steve Will: Well thank you very much. It's been great and I'm happy to be in your house.
Yup. So don't be happy. You haven't gotten the invoice yet [laughs]. So Steve, there are a couple of things I would like to take the opportunity to talk you about. So just this week, the two of us were speaking at the iPower conference in the U.K. We're on our way to COMMON Europe in Warsaw―
Which I think we're both looking forward to. Ando and one of the things that I've seen a bit of but I've got a funny feeling you've seen a lot more of this year has of course been the 30th anniversary celebrations that have been going on. Okay, so excuse my long lead-in to this.
Steve: No problem.
But the thing that I have noticed is that for people like myself, we have a tendency to have been looking back at the last 30 years and celebrating how great they've been and the great things that have happened on the platform, but of course a lot of the emphasis that IBM really has on this celebration is asit is a looking- forward one to kind of the next 30 years.
Steve: Exactly. That's exactly what we're doing. You know we couldn't be where we are without where we've been, and so it is nice to look at what the old machines were and how the architecture has gotten us here. What we really want to celebrate with people is how prepared we are to move forward. So many of our clients are doing amazing things with this platform that show that we're as ready as anyone to carry businesses into the future on this technology front, on the way they work with other people and how they're using data that's is out there in the world. So so that's what our whole celebration theme has been is we're just getting started and we have clients who are showing the way.
So and I know this was part of your keynote, and of course there has been a lot of stuff on the IBM website where there are examples of all of this and this great innovation. But but for most of us who have been working on the platform, I mean it's been payroll, ; it's been ERP,; it's been the accounting packages and a lot of the homegrown stuff and things like that. So so for these―-so some examples of the innovation.
Okay. Well first of all there are so many things going on in computing and open-source today that people need to understand you can easily expand what your applications are doing. And and because we've had such a focus in IBM i in making open-source technology work easily on the platform, you can do things you might not have expected. Some of the stories that we have, for example, center on this one particular business partner, a small development firm in Belgium, CD Invest, who haswas helped several customers incorporate open-source technology. Many might think open-source: "everybody. Everybody does open-source. What are we talking about there? Why is that new?" Well for example for one of their customers, CD Invest wanted to be able to bring in 3-D modeling, 3-D simulation and run it directly on the i―, not on a platform that was connected to the i, but actually run it on the i to be able to give their customers, Euro-east customers, the ability to see what a piece of furniture would look like before it was ever even manufactured. And and so to do that, they knew that there were open-source technologies to be able to pull in 3-D modeling operations. So what did they do? They went out and hired a game programmer, a programmer who didn't ever know i, didn't ever know RPG or didn't even think he was going to work for a business, but he knew how to use this open-source software to do 3-D modeling. And and now this developer is helping business― and by the way, getting a more stable paycheck than he would have trying to do games― using this open-source technology. This particular business partner is using it now for several customers because he was so easily able to bring in this open-source technology― again, doing technology things like 3-D modeling you wouldn't have expected you could do an i but you can easily do onan i now that you've got open-source and you've got a Power processor underneath it.
Okay, so I'm sputtering because of course people can't see you when you're talking of this, right? But but the smile that you gave when you talked about―-because knowing our puncheon for gaming-
So when you talk about a gamer now working on the IBM i.
That's it, Steve. Your job is done [laughs].
No, in fact this story and several of the stories show sort of the multifaceted nature of this celebration. I mean this particular story talks about how the open-source strategy for the platform really benefits clients. It shows how it helps bring young talent into your organization innovation. This particular company was looking at other platforms to try to do this. They wanted to be able to do it and they didn't think i could do it. So the business partner, the partnership aspect of our strategy, ends up winning the business for the IBM i platform, so it's a win for the platform as well. So there's lots of different aspects to this one particular story. Now there are other stories that our customers are telling. HT Bendix is one of our sort of long time customer references whose has been doing amazing things with the platform. They're doing things with robotics that, again, most of our clients probably don't recognize. You know we have lots and lots of our clients who are in manufacturing, distribution and so on who are looking forward and saying "we've got to bring robotics into what we do in our plant" or "we've already done that. How can I integrate that with the i?" Well HT Bendix and a couple of other stories that you can read on the site show how IBM i is driving robotics in those organizations. So it'sIt's important to understand that these stories are multifaceted. It's not just about any one thing. It's about showing how the whole nature of this platform and its community are bringing value into the future.
Yeah, it has become the thing that― I mean for many years I've been saying this. When when people have ever asked me sort of saying "oh, can you do X on IBM i?" My answer has always been yes. No matter what I'm asked, I will always yes. When they say "how?", I may have to answer "I don't know. You know I have to go and find out." But but the answer is yes.
I have yet to be proven wrong. I've yet to come up with -"no." I have come up with things that I was sort of saying, "well you can do them on i but you might be better doing them somewhere else." One was I'm talking about email servers.
Okay you know that kind of thing. I am not talking about anything that is really good―
And complicated and that as well. So part of the thing, Steve, and I mean if we're looking into this thing and we're talking about, well here's to the next 30 years. So as chief architect for the platform, like how far into the future do you look?
decade from now that will be transformative that might be going on in research. So so just from a from a near term, it's more like 2-5two to five years. We conceptually think more like outn a decade. We have to prepare the operating system for farther than that but that's―-that's sort of nebulous most of the time. Many of our customers will have been involved in the Y2K thing, for example, and of course everybody had to look at that there are dates within the IBM i operating system around the 2030's, something strange is going to happen inside the operating system. We've got to look ahead at that far, but right now for detailed plans, it's more like 2-5two to five years with a strategic outlook of about ten.
Good, because―-and again just in case people don't know this― of course on the roadmap that's there, so like IBM i on the roadmap is out to 2028―
Is it or 2026?
Yeah, somewhere in there. If you add the ten years since we released―-add ten years to when we released the 7.3 release, that takes us out to 2026. And and we've told people that there are of course new releases coming in the next few years. So so now we're out past the 2030's in our roadmaps that we're showing.
Yeah and when you think about it, I mean how many other platforms? I mean I love this as the fact that the number of times the people talk about, "oh the IBM i. It's a dying platform. It's going to go." Yup and I don't know of any other platform that sort of says, well here we are. Like, like we're giving you a date that we're going to be here until, that we have to be just following our―-the way we do business.
And we've been trying to make it clear over the past several years that this is a consistent delivery on the same kind of roadmap that we've had in place for more than ten years. If you looked us ten years ago, we were showing you a roadmap that said we've going to be out for at least ten years beyond that, and here we are. We're showing the same thing. So so there's no real reason for us to believe that anything will change in regards to that. It's just a matter of what technology will be out there ten years from now that we'll be integrating.
Now so speaking of technologies out there, of course one of the other big things that was announced in the last week, not directly with IBM i but does touch on it. I'm sorry. Really what I want to ask is does this touch on it? So IBM announced their new supercomputer, and this supercomputer has or is about to become the new biggest, fastest supercomputer in the world and taking that mantle back from China where it has been for the last, I don't know, 5-10five or ten years or whatever, whatever it's been. Right? And right and that this new supercomputer is primarily based on the POWER9 processor, which of course IBM i is as well.
Okay so is there some cross over here? I mean I know that whole supercomputer is another part of IBM and all of that, and I'm really annoyed because when I was down in Austin last year―
And we were seeing all this stuff about the POWER9, nobody mentioned the fact there was a supercomputer in the works.
Even for you [IBM] Champions champions, we have to keep some things secret.
Yes [laughs] so―-so does all of this sort of rub off on you, like being part of that whole POWER9, you know the whole Power family and everything and the fact that it is there.? Is there reflection? Is there something we should be maybe patting ourselves on the back a little bit that we're part of this or―?
Well yeah. I think the community should really be understanding that when IBM puts its mind to designing a business computer, it’s thinking about lots of different workloads that need to be optimized on top of that. POWER9 can be optimized to do the kind of workloads we do― as you mentioned we do so well plus this open-source stuff that we do― but it can also be implemented, accelerated, and optimized for things like the supercomputing workloads so it can run in super parallel environments. It's good for us as an operating system that IBM wants to continue to invest in the advancement of the processors that we depend upon. This is not the way it would have had to have gone, right?. IBM could have decided that "oh for doing accounting and so on, we've going to have a limited processor and we're going to do other things." No. There's one processor with the assumption that we're all going to find interesting, innovative ways to use the capabilities that are initially created for something else. That's what we're excited about looking at for the future. How can we take advantage of these new enhancements that are being created specifically for supercomputing and cognitive, and apply those to the future strategy of IBM i workloads.
So just share with people what the name of the supercomputer is?
Oh, you mean the Summit? Does that mean something to you, Paul?
I'm just―-I mean some people might just see it as coincidence. Other people may say its, "well IBM picked that name based on the RPG and DB2 Summit and what a great conference it is." I mean you could go either way I suppose on that [laughs]. Okay so, Steve:. You've been here in Ireland for a couple of days visiting. So, so any impressions?
Oh. Oh my goodness. If you who are listening have never been to Ireland, it is in many ways exactly what people say and more. It's a beautiful place to be. I have enjoyed every place that you have been able to take me. We've seen some amazing things that I've only seen here in Ireland, and people have been super friendly and of course you are. So yeah, so-yeah. I've loved it. The amount of history that is here together with the amount of nature that is so easily seen close by. I just have loved my time. I hope I get to come back for longer the next time.
Ohh yeah. Okay. I'm now applying the discount of the invoice here as you speak. The other thing is that one of the things I've enjoyed putting up with you for the last couple days is since yesterday is that grin you've had on our face―-
With the arrival of your fourth grandson.
Or your fourth grandchild. Excuse me. Your third grandson and fourth grandchild. So I think a good note to finish on as on behalf of myself and I think everybody listening, congrats on becoming a granddad again.
Thank you very much. It's one of my favorite parts of life. It's great to have yet another one to love.
Okay and I think that's a good note, everybody, to finish this iTalk on. So so bye for now and tune in again for the next one.
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Open Source on IBM i Business Architect Jesse Gorzinski explains why open source and POWER9 are a fantastic combo.
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Claire Walling: Hi. I'm Claire Walling. I'm the managing editor of IBM Systems Magazine Power systems edition, and I'm here at COMMON with Jesse Gorzinski, the business architect for open-source on IBM i. Thank you, Jesse.
Jesse Gorzinski: Thanks for having me. Thank you.
Claire: Great. So let's get right to it. Why open-source on IBM i?
Jesse: There are tons of reasons why open-source makes sense for IBM i. The most talked about reason tends to be centered around skills, right? So companies are sometimes planning ahead, looking at the future and saying "how do we bring in the best talent and enable that best talent to continue to work on the platform and write applications on the platform?" That's one of the most common concerns and so they're looking at potentially, you know, 25-30 year old RPG applications. They're saying "well we can't hire as many people to maintain RPG code." That's one of the reasons we've created RPG free format with … is to help with that. RPG free format helps because more and more people can come on and use the language, but open-source helps even more. Open-source adds on to all the stuff we've done in RPG because now you can hire anybody … have to be a new kid from college or anything. Sometimes we talk about college graduates and things, but pretty much anybody from the workforce that has these skills―and there are many, many people with these skills. Anybody with PHP, Ruby, Java, Node.js, Python, they can actually come onto the platform, be doing value-add activity their first week of employment and then they can start learning some of the other core business applications that your system is running. So there's a number of conversations that we can have just in that skills area alone. You know we've seen customers being successful in taking RPG programmers and saying hey, there is emerging technologies out there. There's most commonly Python packages that are written to add the real needs of our business today. Companies have had success taking RPG programmers and they're able to learn a language like Python, because it is so easy to learn, and it just really helps with of course time to market, production and development costs, etc., right, but that also ties into some of those other benefits. It's not just about the skills. You know time to market is huge. You know obviously you don't want to grow your own solution all the time if there is something available in the open-source realm. So people have been―you know I've heard stories where people have been implementing things in a manner of days or sometimes weeks because they used open-source technologies and they've leveraged this greater community of open-source software that's available. It just makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.
Claire: Going off of that, how does open-source foster innovation on IBM i?
Jesse: So that's actually―the scope of that question in my opinion is very, very large because the software development community as a whole is millions of people worldwide, right? And what open-source has enabled is to say these are millions of people worldwide, intelligent people with unique skills, unique viewpoints and the ability to do so much innovation in the computer science realm―programming realm especially, right? And what open-source has done is it creates this environment where it fosters all of that innovation to happen, right? So if you are one of these developers in the world and you have these unique ideas, there are communities that will help you develop those ideas. There are projects that will accept your ideas, you know, in the form of code contributions or issues that you write open discussions―and that's really the key point as well. It's fostered because the open-source community is very, very accepting, right? You know sometimes―if you're new to Github or you're new to Bitbucket or any of these open-source platforms that are out there, there are numerous ones―you know you might start submitting things and you might start, you know, you might have contributions turned down for various reasons, but it's almost always accompanied with constructive, polite, kind feedback, right? All the major open-source projects have code of conduct guidelines, right? They're kind of managed like a business: we treat people well, we're accepting of people and the culture is just―again, it's just very accepting of things. And it creates this environment where you have millions of people creating all this cool new stuff all the time. That's why open-source software has been the breeding ground for so much innovation that we've seen in the realm of IT and computer science as a whole.
Claire: Right. You mentioned some open-source sites. Can you talk a little bit more about them?
Jesse: Yeah so what I was referring to was there's a number of websites out there that are popular for hosting source code repositories. Back when I was younger it was SourceForge and there's people that talk about some of the prior websites to that. We―some of the other popular ones are Bitbucket, right? So we have a number of our IBM i-specific projects out on Bitbucket―and that's an interesting point as well because everything that my team delivers including all the stuff to go talk to the database from these various languages are open-sourced, right? A lot of that innovation is hosted out on a website called Bitbucket. We partnered with one of our partner companies, Frankel technology, but it's out on Bitbucket and it's just very good interface for collaborating. It's bit-based, you can open issues, you can submit what we call a core request when you send in contribution. The most popular one seems to be Github, right? Everybody knows Github. I've seen a couple of people at the conference with the Github shirts with their Github IDs on them. And so Github seems to have a lot of momentum right now but there's just a lot of―you know I call them the open-source platforms. They just provide this space regardless of what actual operating system you're running on which we also call platforms and then regardless of what language you're doing, regardless of what you're creating or you're developing, this is a place where you can go and submit your works. So on Github there's―Java script is the most popular language right now but there is RPG out there. People who have been following the open-source realm on you know Linkedin or Twitter or even Midrange know the key members of our community have been pushing RPG stuff up there as well. So it's very broad. There is a lot that can be done because we have all these places that make it so easy to contribute and build stuff that's cool.
Claire: How is IBM helping to promote the open-source community?
Jesse: So IBM is doing a lot in terms of promoting open-source, definitely at the corporate level―you know, Big IBM if you will. They've been―they've been contributing to tens of thousands of open-source products as a collective whole of IBM. If you look at a lot of the newer, cooler deliveries that IBM has been pushing, right, definitely a lot in the Linux space, right? If you look at what we've been doing with collaboration in the OpenPOWER space, we've also been pushing what we can do not only just with the hardware but with this open-source stock product coupled with that hardware and OpenPOWER when we go to our partners. And so we've been including open-source software as part of those conversations very actively. But we're out there. You know the biggest thing is that IBM is out there, boots on the ground, contributing to these projects, insuring the health of these projects right? One example that hits really close to home for the IBM i community is Node.js. Node.js, for those who aren't aware, Node.js has essentially a gif complier in its runtime and that complier is actually optimized for our hardware. So when you get the POWER9 chip that was just announced earlier this year and released earlier this year, you get this POWER9 chip, you can be running Node.js workloads on that chip that are exploiting that POWER9 hardware, right? It's actually optimized for POWER, but we have a very strong investment even in Node.js, helping that language move forward. We're very involved in the community. In fact I'll do a name drop: The chairman of the Node.js technical steering committee is actually here at PowerUp 18, which I think is a really strong indicator as well of, you know, we're―we are involved in these open-source technologies and we're investing in them. Many IBMers on their work time are contributing to open-source projects. That's what they do. Now to reel that in a little bit: We want to talk about IBM i, specifically. Now my development teams have contributed to dozens of open-source projects as well. Some of those are relatively minor contributions―get the software optimized, working on IBM i―but some of those projects as well, they're benefiting that greater open-source community because that also still benefits us. You know, position the platform now with our alignment with open-source technology so that we're benefiting from all of these developers that are doing all of these cool things.
Claire: Great. Now you mentioned POWER9. What are the other benefits of running open-source on POWER9?
Jesse: I'm going to defer to the hardware people for that question. I can tell you what I know at a high level that I've read at various places, and I'm no more an expert than you are here, but a lot of the POWER9 architecture is obviously optimized for machine learning and AI and a lot of those workloads are derived from open-source software that is out there right now. There is―if you look at what's getting the most adoption in those spaces, it's open-source software, right? So it makes sense that there is that affinity there, that you are going to be wanting―running open-source software on POWER9.
Claire: So here at PowerUp 18, we're also celebrating the 30th anniversary of IBM i.
Claire: How is the open-source community recognizing that?
Jesse: So my answer to that one is going to be, you know, I'm passing the buck a little bit, but the cool thing about the open-source IBM i community right now is that we've really become ingrained in.
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Larry Bolhuis talks about the about the power of POWER9, the Summit supercomputer and more.
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Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. This is greetings from COMMON Europe in Warsaw, where I'm delighted to be joined today―actually to welcome back to iTalk―a man with many names. He is known as El Presidente. He is known as Dr. Franken. He is known as Big Larry. He is known as Little Larry and he is also known as Larry Bolhuis every now and again. So Larry, welcome back to iTalk.
Larry Bolhuis: Thank you Paul. It's good to be here.
Paul: Also nice to be meeting―to be doing it face-to-face again, always nice when we meet up.
Paul: And you will of course because we're about to talk about hardware for a little bit, right? So you will ignore the glazed look that will come into my eyes [laughs] in about two minutes. So―but let's start with the hardware, Larry. Of course, now we have POWER9 out there.
Paul: So I'm really interested. I mean, what's your impression of POWER9? Like is this great, or is it just, "eh, it's another chip?"
Larry: Well you know IBM always releases great hardware, and in this case, the numbering, you know, not a big deal. Much of the model numbers line up again now. We have a 41A again―but that doesn't tell you about the hardware, the POWER9 chip. So phenomenal amount of I/O there. This is the biggest move forward in I/O in a long time and that really fits the cognitive era, right, the big data era.
Larry: That's where these things really step it up. So not only did we get, you know, more throughput in the queues and in the processor itself, but the big thing is bandwidth. So memory bandwidth, memory capacity on the low end, we're into the multi-terabytes in a small box now. And then the real big one is first computer in the industry to come out with PCIe Generation 4 I/O slots. They are again double―this whole binary thing right?
Larry: Again, double the throughput of a PCI Generation 3 slot which POWER8 used and which everybody else is using so―
Paul: Yeah. So now you are talking about a couple of things in there―I mean obviously the cognitive and all of this, which we know, is the direction. We're going to come back on that in one second, but the―but for oh, just the Joe Schmoe business. "Yeah, you know I'm on POWER8. I move to POWER9, you know. I'm not going to be doing the cognitive and the AI and all of that, so for me just on that like what does that mean to me? Does it mean like my machine is going to be like twice as fast or what?"
Larry: Well and it's―so the numbers are in the neighborhood of, on just an average processor, you know, 50 percent more throughput.
Oh, right [laughs].
Larry: They support―
I think I know this―
Larry: Their business is supporting the brewery. So do they need POWER9 level of performance? Probably not, but the―one of the big changes that keeps coming through, right, is we all remember we had an installed client on our desktop that ran, you know, Client Access. Well that thing is all done. It's all done in the web now, right, and so when you have this new POWER9 processor, all of that stuff is so much more real time. Those things they've been working on them since release 6, right? 6.1. It wasn't very snappy then because we had, you know, POWER6 processors. But the other thing is―you made the comment that "well they don't need this GUI or they don't need this kind of capability." But what we're seeing is more and more and more people stepping up and adding, you know, GUI front ends, leveraging the tools that IBM has given us, right, to put a web front end, right? And whether that's PHP because that's, you know, a industry standard language right or whether that's leveraging the APIs IBM gave us to replace that green screen with a web interface and now boom: That thing performs better.
Well it's an interesting thing. If you remember―actually just here at the conference the other day when Steve Will and Alison Butterill were doing―we have the 30-year celebration put on. Of course, they're talking a lot about the innovations that companies are doing on i―
And I know to me, from the software guys coming in with this, is because―what I always look at is, to me, is sort of, "what does the hardware make possible?"
Make possible with that. And when we're seeing these things, these phenomenal things that people are doing, and what to me is great for the platform is that―and I was sort of being a little bit smarmy there when I did the "you know, oh for the guy who doesn't need"―
Because it's not that. Because as you and I know, we now have the hardware that allows us to do basically anything we want.
Larry: Anything we want. Exactly.
Which is really, really cool. So the other thing and I wanted to swing back on―you touched on it there when you talked about the cognitive and everything like that, of course―is this announcement about this new Summit supercomputer.
Which is built on POWER9. So what do you think of that?
Larry: So first off, I think they've kind of missed the boat in one spot. They have all these NVIDIA chips and just think of how big a video screen you could drive with that?! Right [laughs]?
There speaks the American: "How big a TV set can I get?" Yeah.
Larry: I'm thinking we could do a whole wall of a stadium, right, with this thing. But so it is truly amazing, and if it's―I mean the Summit itself is in the neighborhood of 4,500 chips, it's a little bit more than that. And then in the NVIDIA, there's a 2:1, so there's over 9,000 of those chips in there, right? And so the capability in there―it's in the petaflops, right, of horsepower―and it's I believe 25 percent of the number of nodes of the previous version.
Larry: So one of the coolest videos I've seen in a long time that didn't involve Elon Musk landing two rockets side by side―because that was just cool―but was the assembly of this supercomputer-
Larry: Right and it's a time-lapse thing. It's just incredible to sit there and it's―I want to say it's five minutes, but maybe not that long―but just to watch that thing coming your way―
Larry: As they assemble the floor and but―
Paul: It's about the size of two tennis courts―
If I remember.
Larry: Yeah, yeah. And and then they're also are using the new skinnier racks with the really way cool front door that I need to get my hands on [laughs]. Everybody wants one of those front doors. But you just look at how many―the density of it, how much power is being consumed in that room, and yet how more efficient it is than the previous generation.
Larry: It's like something like 25 kilowatts per rack, I think, is the power.
So the fact, Larry, that at the moment, this world's―which is now the fastest-
Bestest supercomputer out there, and that it's basically the same hardware as the POWER9 there―so have you got plans for building Frankie 2? Are we going to get Super Frankie?
Larry: Yeah, Super Frankie.
While you're working in the laboratory late one night?
Larry: Yeah with some goofy music in the background. Yeah. The―so Super Frankie probably isn't coming just yet, because all of the new chips are still relatively expensive.
Larry: So at some point, yeah. We'll―the Frankies run a couple of generations behind. I always said that I had Watson's grandfather [laughs] in my basement, right, because it was two generations older than Watson.
Larry: Right so but the―the possibility does exist at some point.
I will keep watching this space.
Larry: That's right. Watch this space and if there's a glow near the Franken line―and you can find the Franken line on Google maps, by the way.
Larry: Yeah, it's a-you can actually Google it. It's in there.
Oh, I didn't know that.
Larry: Yeah, yeah.
Okay. That's―what's with―let me finish this. I'll Google it.
Larry: Yeah, yeah.
Okay so let me change totally away from hardware, because the other big thing and especially for you this year.
And as I said here, I don't know whether to congratulate you or commiserate with you, El Presidente, sir, as I am now down on one knee―because of course this year you are now President of COMMON US.
Okay so now I've got to say, Larry―because as you know many years ago I worked as a volunteer with COMMON US, and we worked together on many committees.
Larry: Yes, yes.
And I remember many good times and also the thing I want to remember: There were many difficult things that we did together. There were a few of the projects that we did there that were when that stage when COMMON was on a downturn―
And there were hard things had to be done.
Larry: Oh, yeah.
We worked together. So I know you are a man who is well capable of this job. So my question, I think, to you, Larry, is that so when people look back on your tenure as president―
Larry: Uh-huh. Yup.
Do you have something you want to be remembered as? As opposed to just the guy who was president, and he was a great president, do you have something there going that you want to be remembered as that you achieved in your year?
Larry: Yeah. I appreciate that question because when I look at being president, it is about not just being a good leader. That's part of it, but to me it's finding that guy or that gal who didn't know they needed education. Right? If you go to the Google or the Yahoo or the Bing or whoever your favorite one is and you search for IBM i education, right, you will find COMMON.
Larry: Right. If you search for IBM i conference, we will be the first one that shows up on all of those lists. But you had to know you needed us.
Larry: And that's the thing. So many of these shops―you know we talk about the advance in the hardware, we talk about the advance in the software and all these things―but there is a lot of shops out there that they, 30 years. Some of them are still running code 30 years old. They just don't realize that they need us.
Larry: And when they find us, they're blown away. Right?
Larry: And it is not us, COMMON, that's blowing them away. It's us, COMMON, assembling that education, bringing those vendors together, right? And they're standing at the―I mean literally at this past PowerUp conference, talking to a customer, and the poor woman is just standing there almost slack jawed with, "I didn't know."
Larry: Right. And that's―so that's the key: finding those people and bringing them back and having them realize that, "you know, it's not an AS/400 anymore."
Yeah. Yeah indeed. So I mean good luck Larry and I mean―I―you know if we'd been having this conversation, maybe four or five years ago, I got to be honest with you. I would have been pessimistic. I would have sort of saying to you, "I wish you the best of luck with a thing like that." But as we know―and actually we've seen here, I think a little bit with COMMON Europe with some of the countries, some of the individual countries are here, so you know like Sweden, Denmark, and the U.K.―where suddenly they're growing again.
You know and they're finding ways, as you say, to get to these people. Of course, this is a totally different challenge in somewhere the size of the U.S.―
To get out to that, you know, as opposed to―I mean, let's just look at how much distance you've got to cover there―but I'm telling you, no better man for the challenge than you.
Larry: Thank you. Appreciate it.
So―so, okay so let's see: So far I've covered the Larry Bolhuis, we've touched on the Dr. Franken, I got the El Presidente, so―but why are you called Big Larry?
Larry: Well it's kind of―Larry is relatively common name in our area, so I walk into a customer and they already have a Larry. But I'm bigger than that Larry, so we have to have a differentiator. So at 6-foot-5, I'm Big Larry.
Okay so at 6-foot-5; I can understand that at 6-foot-5. Why Little Larry then? That doesn't make sense. I mean if you're 6' 5", how can you be―unless it's sort of like one of those joke names, you know―because we do this a lot in Ireland, by the way.
We have a thing, so if you're big you'll be called little, if you're little, you will be called gigantor or something like that.
Larry: Right. Right.
That's the thing, you know, because it is supposed to be humorous. So is that it? Is that why you're called Little Larry?
Larry: Well actually, I'm the runt in my family and so―
Sorry. You're the runt of the family?
Larry: Right. Yes. So I have a Dutch heritage. The name Bolhuis―as you can imagine, right?―and the Dutch are the tallest average height, right?
Larry: And despite the fact that being first to the dinner table because I'm the oldest, my brothers are taller than I am.
So I'm nearly afraid to ask: How tall are your brothers?
Larry: Well what we call The Little One is, as he puts it, 5-foot-22 [laughs] which―because my mother was 5-foot-12. She didn't want to be six foot as a woman.
Larry: So he is 5-foot-22.
Larry: Which is 6-foot-10 for those bad at math.
Yeah and the other brother?
Larry: He is 6' 6".
Oh, so just that close to you.
Larry: Right so, you know, but yeah.
Paul: Okay so listen: I think this is a good one to end on and I'm looking forward in a couple of minutes Larry to watching you―as usual―hit your head off the top of the door leaving the room [laughs].
Larry: Get the little radar hat you know beep, beep, beep. What is that? Needs new batteries. Ouch.
Paul: So Larry, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and again, best of luck with your tenure as president of COMMON this year.
Larry: All right.
Paul: I hope you enjoy it as well.
Larry: Thanks, Paul.
Paul: Okay everybody that's it for this iTalk. Tune in again in a couple of weeks for the next one. Bye for now.
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