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Improving the User Experience for Multi-Architecture Compute on IBM Power

By Brandon Pederson posted Thu March 28, 2024 04:20 PM


By: Brandon Pederson, Erica Albert, Paul Bastide, and Arushi Shahani 

More and more IBM® Power® clients are modernizing securely with lower risk and faster time to value with cloud-native microservices on Red Hat® OpenShift® running alongside their existing banking and industry applications on AIX, IBM i, and Linux. With the availability of Red Hat OpenShift 4.15 on March 19th, Red Hat and IBM introduced a long-awaited innovation called Multi-Architecture Compute that enables clients to mix Power and x86 worker nodes in a single Red Hat OpenShift cluster. With the release of Red Hat OpenShift 4.15, clients can now run the control plane for a Multi-Architecture Compute cluster natively on Power. 

In September of 2023, the IBM Power Design Research Team developed an early adoption sponsor user program. A sponsor user program is a collaborative initiative between IBM and its clients. The IBM research team co-creates with the client and establishes a continuous feedback loop to understand customer needs, pain points, expectations, goals, and requirements. By doing so we incorporate the voice of the client into our solutions, enabling our clients to have a direct impact on the way we design, build, and innovate.  

This sponsor user program was for a new Red Hat OpenShift capability that allowed clients to build a complete solution using several processor architectures (Power and x86) and avoid the overhead of multiple Red Hat OpenShift clusters for their workloads, now known as Multi-Architecture Compute. By partnering with IBM Sales and Technical Sales, the team was able to understand which clients were likely candidates for early adoption.

Phase One of this research program started with an initial interview with five candidates to understand their sentiment toward mixing architectures. Findings from these initial conversations showed 72% strongly favored Multi-Architecture Compute. Through this interview, the IBM Power Design Research Team gained a better understanding of their use cases. Once use cases were determined, the team collaborated with two eligible candidates to grant them access to Multi-Architecture Compute on Red Hat OpenShift 4.14, where the control plane is on x86. The team solicited their feedback on several key areas:

1.    User experience of the solution

2.    Feedback on the quality and usefulness of content and language in the onboarding material

3.    Better understanding of use cases

Through this process, the IBM Power Design Research Team was able to gather valuable insights to refine and improve the solution’s usability, content effectiveness, and alignment with user needs and expectations. From the Business Partner’s perspective, having early access to this solution allowed them to bypass struggles with a few x86 specific applications they required that were not available with Red Hat OpenShift on Power. Read more about the experience from the Business Partner’s perspective here. In addition to the two external co-creation partners, the IBM Power Design Research Team conducted the same research with IBM Technology Expert Labs and garnered more valuable feedback as well.

Phase Two of this research program is focused on understanding the user experience of the “out-of-the-box” solution. With the introduction of Red Hat OpenShift 4.15, the IBM Power Design Research Team aims to investigate whether Power as the control plane modifies or broadens our use cases. With two clients already scheduled for exploration in April of 2024, our objective is to gain insights into the following:

1.    How effortless or challenging is the installation process, and how quickly can users get up and running?

2.    How effortless or challenging is it to schedule workloads? Across one architecture? Across multiple architectures?

3.    Does Power as the control plane alter or expand our use cases?

Sponsor users influence the direction of IBM solutions to maximize the value of our products for clients, Business Partners, and ISVs. Working closely with the IBM Power Design Research Team means client needs are put first, and their requirements are prioritized in the IBM development decision-making process. By continuing this research, the team will be able to plan and prioritize Multi-Architecture Compute roadmap items based on client and Business Partner feedback. Learn more about getting started with Multi-Architecture Compute here. Interested in being a sponsor user? Sign up here.