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How does PowerVM Development use your Call Home Data

By Pete Heyrman posted Tue June 16, 2020 04:26 PM

PowerVM Call Home Data UsageThe IBM Call Home support provides many direct and indirect benefits to Power customers.  The following article provides details on the data collected and how the Call Home data is used by the PowerVM development team.

There are many direct benefits provided by the PowerVM Call Home support:
  • Rapid access to system inventory
  • Performance Management for Power servers
  • Automatic reporting of errors to IBM including immediate update of error logs and initiation of IBM support requests
  • Faster diagnostics and time to repair
  • Access to customize maintenance information
In addition to these benefits, IBM also uses the Call Home data to make business decisions about current and future products.  The following sections will provide information about the data that is collected and how IBM utilizes this data.

Information that is reported to IBM via Call Home Support
When Call Home is enabled on a server, periodically the server will report information about how the system is being used by the customer.  The data is really just a summary of how the server is configured and what features are being used.  The following is some of the data that is collected
PowerVM Call Home Collected DataThe data that is collected is aggregated across all of the Call Home records received to create insight into how customers are using Power servers.  This allows the offering management team to make decisions on the priority of enhancements for new or existing offerings.  For example, watching the growth in the maximum number of partitions on any single server deployed on Power servers allows IBM to determine when customers would be reaching the current limit of 1000 partitions on a single server.  This allows IBM to stay ahead of customer’s needs.

The collected information about server type, server model and firmware levels allows IBM to track firmware usage.  If customers are not installing firmware on older model servers, there is little value in continuing to provide new service packs for those firmware releases.  For newer firmware levels, the Call Home data provides insights into how quickly customers are installing the latest firmware updates.

The Call Home data is also very valuable to the IBM test organizations as tests can be based on typical customer configuration.  The closer IBM is to duplicating actual customer environments, the better the test coverage.

Partition Mobility Benefits Provided by Call Home
The most complete set of data that is collected is related to partition mobility.  When partition mobility was first introduced, IBM wanted a way to track the success/failure rate being experienced by customers.  Quarterly, the IBM team reviews the Call Home data to determine if additional focus is needed in any specific area of the partition mobility solution.  For example, knowing the reason for partition mobility failures helps IBM to specifically target improvement to error messages, online documentation, software changes and such based on the problem that are occurring most frequently.  Many of these issues are resolved by customers without involving the IBM service teams so the Call Home data is the only way IBM is aware of these difficulties experienced by customers.

When designing enhancements, knowing the configuration in use by the customers (network configuration, storage configuration, partition sizes and such) allows IBM to concentrate solutions that will benefit majority of the customers.  For example, even though 10Gb networks are very common, there is quite a bit of live partition mobility (LPM) operations being performed on 1Gb networks.  Because of this, IBM is considering enhancements that would reduce the time to perform LPM operations for customers that are using 1Gb networks.

In analyzing the Call Home data, IBM found that there are no customers utilizing the partition hibernation function where you can suspend a currently running partition and “wake up” the partition at a later time.  Having functions in the offering that are not being used by customers adds burden to the testing and hampers the addition of new functions.  Because of the low usage of partition hibernation, it will not be supported on Power9 servers.  Also, when remote restart was first introduced, customer needed to configure a paging space (disk storage associated with individual partitions) that was used for storage of the configuration information about the partition.  This technology was soon replaced by what IBM refers to as the simplified remote restart offering where the extra paging space is not required because the HMC stores the configuration information.  Since there are no known customers using the original version of remote restart and there is a simplified solution available, IBM will also be dropping support for the original remote restart function on Power9 servers.  Using the Call Home support to identify functions that are not being used by customers, allows resources to be focused on providing new features for Power customers.

In summary, the PowerVM team utilizes the Call Home support to determine usage trends of various hardware and software features.  Enabling Call Home support is your way of reporting to IBM which functions are critical to your business so IBM can ensure enhancements are targeted to features that benefit you the most.

Contacting the PowerVM Team
Have questions for the PowerVM team or want to learn more?  Follow our discussion group on LinkedIn IBM PowerVM or IBM Community Discussions