Top Blog Posts of 2012 Countdown: Key differences between IBM PureFlex System and IBM PureApplication System

Up next in our top blog posts of 2012 comes from Vijay Bhadriraju, and he provides a nice comparison of the IBM PureFlex and PureApplication System. This post originally appeared on the Expert Integrated Systems blog on May 11, 2012

In this blog post, I explain the key differences between IBM PureFlex System and IBM PureApplication System from the IBM PureSystems family and how they are positioned from an end-user perspective. The details provided can help customers make informed decisions when trying to select either of the systems for their data center.

The following figure shows the value proposition of each of these systems and the driving factors in considering each of these systems in your data center. The important point to note is that both the flex and application systems share some common features and functions. The application system complements the flex system with optimized expert integrated middleware, helping drive efficiency and reduce labor costs in deploying and maintaining applications.

The common features and functions include:

  • At the hardware level both systems have built-in expertise by using best practices.
  • Both have preconfigured and pre-integrated network, storage, compute power, memory, resource management, and monitoring capabilities.
  • Both have a single point of support for all maintenance and upgrades of all the components delivered in the system.

The key differences between flex and application systems to be aware of when you consider either of these systems include:

  • For the first release, the flex system is available with Intel compute nodes or Power compute nodes, or a hybrid, of both compute nodes. The application system is available only with Intel x86 compute nodes using Romley 8-core Sandy Bridge chipset. However, the power type of the application system is planned for availability toward end of 2012.
  • The flex system does not include pre-integrated, pre-entitled optimized application middleware and VMware virtualization, giving the user more flexibility of the operating system (Windows and Linux for Intel, AIX for Power), and deploying the application workloads in a non virtualized native environment. The system provides all the hardware provisioning and unified management support for all the hardware components for easy deployment of virtualized or non virtualized environments. All the middleware (operating system, application software, virtualization software) needs to be purchased separately.
  • The application system comes with pre-integrated, pre-entitled optimized application middleware with automated deployment using VMware virtualization, virtual application, and virtual system patterns with elasticity, high availability, and automated failover based on best practices. The virtual machine’s CPU, memory and disk space can be varied based on the need of the workload. The application system will not deploy non virtualized native environment and supports virtualized deployments only. The largest virtual machine that can be created is using 16 cores consuming a complete Intel compute node in the system. By the software being pre-entitled for the entire system, no additional software purchases are needed, even with system upgrades, leading to significant saving in software licensing costs.
  • The application system has built in monitoring intelligence using predefined policies to scale up and scale down the middleware and make the application elastic as the demand for the application grows or shrinks, providing fidelity to the application to meet its service level agreement (SLA).
  • From the hardware performance standpoint, both flex and application systems provide the same performance because they both include the same set of hardware components (network, storage, compute power, and memory).
  • The flex system is catered for businesses that are more infrastructure-centric of their IT environment, giving them the ultimate control of each component in the infrastructure, which is essentially a “do-it-yourself” model in building their application environment.
  • The application system is catered for businesses that are more application- and workload-centric in their IT environment and interested in a “ready-to-go” application infrastructure that automates provisioning, accelerates deployment, improves repeatability, and reduces risk in building an optimized scalable application infrastructure based on best practices.

The following educational overview videos about IBM PureFlex System and IBM PureApplicationSystem can help you gain more insight about these systems:

In summary, customers can get either of the systems in their data centers, whichever best suites their needs, simplifies the operations of their IT infrastructure, and reduces labor costs.


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Vijay Bhadriraju

About Vijay Bhadriraju

Open Group Master certified IT Specialist in the IBM Software Competitive Technology Laboratory with 16 years of software industry experience that includes 14 years at IBM. At IBM he has worked in the areas of Customer Consulting, Product Development and Business Partner Enablement. His current focus is performing competitive analysis of IBM vs. Oracle products. Additionally, he develops and showcases demos on various IBM WebSphere middleware at CPO customer events worldwide. He has hands on programming experience on Java, J2EE, Java EE, Web Services, XML, Web 2.0, Mashups, REST, HTML technologies. He possesses a wide breadth of WebSphere experience helping customers and business partners implement industry solutions. He holds a Bachelors of Engineering degree majored in computer science.
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