After 31 years at IBM, Doug Balog is facing a big challenge. Balog is the General Manager of Power Systems within IBM's System and Technology Group and is aiming to transform the business with new silicon and open efforts to grab share from the x86 market.
In an exclusive video interview with ServerWatch, Balog reveals that IBM has new Power 8 servers set to be announced in October. He also explains why openness matters and how IBM is positioning its Power business against x86.
The move to accelerate Power comes at an interesting time for IBM, which recently shed its x86 industry-standard server business in a deal with Lenovo. As a result, instead of being an Intel server partner, IBM is now mostly a competitor.
At the core of Balog's strategy for accelerating Power is the OpenPower Foundation, which currently has over 50 members.
"Part of the problem we see in hardware is the promise of Moore's Law — double the performance, every two years," Balog said. "Historically that was all delivered in silicon with more transistors packed into a smaller space and driven by a single company's agenda."
In Balog's view that approach is no longer possible and an open approach is now necessary to drive innovation forward. With the Open Power Foundation, the promise is to enable silicon, systems and software vendors to continue to deliver increasing levels of performance.
x86 Servers Out, But Power Systems Still Going Strong
With the x86 business now gone from IBM, Balog doesn't see a major change for Power.
"The focus on Power really hasn't changed despite the divestiture decision; we remain an innovation company," Balog said.
As it turns out, Balog said that innovating on x86 was a particular challenge since the technology curve was driven by Intel's roadmap. IBM's Power 8 systems, which were first announced in April, were already being competitively positioned against Intel x86 systems. Intel is widely expected to announce a new generation of server silicon in September and IBM already has its response ready to go.
"We have new announcements coming in October, continuing to build out the Power 8 portfolio and also leverage Open Power technology," Balog said. "The whole Open Power opportunity around accelerators is where you'll see more of that come to the market in our announcements in October."
The initial set of Power 8 Server systems announced by IBM in April included five new Power8 servers, two of which are Linux-only systems. The Power 8 server configurations available to date are 2U systems. With the upcoming October announcements, IBM is set to scale the Power 8 server portfolio out.
"There is a larger than 4U, 2-socket system coming out," Balog said.
Watch the full video interview with Doug Balog below: