Advocacy : Migrating IBM Power Systems to HPE Open-Standards Platforms

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has many years of experience in migrating mission-critical applications from IBM Power Systems running IBM’s UNIX operating system AIX to HPE (previously HP) open-standards platforms. As HPE has demonstrated, most of these migrations create significantly less expensive operating environments, often cutting costs by more than 50%. At the same time, the HPE open-standards environments meet or exceed the performance and availability attributes of the original Power Systems.

Compelling Reasons for Migrating fromPower Systems to HPE Open Systems

Several pain points are motivating organizations to consider migrating their mission-critical applications from IBM Power Systems to open systems.

Dwindling ISV Support

More ISVs are dropping support for Power Systems. In fact, the Gartner Group predicts that by the year 2020, 70% fewer applications will run on UNIX. As time goes on, vendors may stop supporting their applications on UNIX. They may drop the applications entirely or migrate them to Linux.

IBM claims that you can run Linux applications on Power. However, Power Linux implementations are not binary compatible with mainstream Linux distributions on x86 platforms. Linux applications must be certified by the ISV before they can be run on Power Linux, and it remains to be seen whether ISVs will make this commitment with the narrow market represented by Linux on Power Systems.

High Cost

By offering x86 platforms that deliver the highest levels of uptime, HPE allows customers to maintain their mission-critical service-level agreements (SLAs) with vastly lower costs for software licensing, hardware support, and power consumption. A significant consideration is the cost of the Oracle database-management system, as many of the applications being migrated
use Oracle databases. Oracle charges twice as much per processor core for Power Systems than it does for x86 platforms. Furthermore, Oracle RAC (Real Application Cluster) costs $11,500 per core on an x86 system compared to $23,000 on an IBM Power System.

Support for Cloud Computing

Moving workloads to a cloud environment requires defining a virtualized, standardized platform to deploy applications onto a wide range of public cloud-service providers. If workloads remain on Power Systems, the only cloud-deployment option is a high-cost cloud from IBM. Since cloud computing requires common software across all platforms, Power Systems cannot be brought readily into this flexible environment. Tools for publicly available cloud environments such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V, ESX from VMware, and Xen from Citrix commonly run on Linux, Windows, or both but not on Power Systems.

HPE’s Approach to Migration

Applications must continue to provide uninterrupted services during and after the migration. To aid this fundamental requirement, workloads for large applications often can be migrated using a phased approach, migrating one at a time, until all target workloads are running on the new platform.

Who Does the Migration?

Is the migration performed by HPE, by the customer, or through cooperation between the two? This decision may be different for each migration. Often, several migrations must be planned and executed; and the mix of participants may vary with each.

Clients often leverage an experienced migration-services vendor to perform all aspects of a migration. This approach can reduce risk and can provide a single point of ownership for the migration project. Migrating from Power Systems to open systems requires knowledge of many application environments, including online transaction processing, batch processing, and enterprise resource planning (ERP), all of which need to be accessed on-demand and cannot be down.

Migration becomes more complicated if the client assigns some of its IT personnel to the project. HPE’s approach allows the client to determine the level of staff involvement in the migration.

Managing Application Upgrades During a Migration

In many cases, in addition to migrating from Power Systems to HPE open-standards platforms, clients may want to upgrade their applications. This process can involve changing third-party packages, replacing a custom application with a third-party application, or modifying a custom application.

In general, the application should be migrated first before it is upgraded in order to minimize risk. Unless an application no longer is suitable for production, it is better to leave further changes until after the migration in order to minimize the migration time frame.

In-House Developed Code

A common high-risk area is the migration of in-house-developed code that is older and mission-critical. HPE has developed a portfolio of software tools that automates the migration of in-house code, including C, Java, and scripts.

Clients often will decide to migrate in-house code if they have only a small number of applications or if the applications are not mission-critical. If the customer decides to perform its own migrations from Power Systems to HPE open-standards platforms, it must recompile the applications and run functional and system tests to identify errors and other issues. HPE has found that recompiling Power C code on Linux will identify only about 25% of the needed code changes. The rest are discovered during testing or, even worse, in production.

HPE has developed code-analysis tools that reduce the time and effort of a manual review process. These tools identify the dependencies and required code changes of an application prior to migrating from Power Systems to open systems and can reduce testing time by as much as 70%. The tool set is especially appropriate for analyzing mission-critical code since it reduces the likelihood of bugs showing up in a production environment.

ISV Applications

For packaged applications from vendors such as SAP, Oracle, and dozens of others, the vendor typically offers services to migrate the application to Linux on x86. However, a major application from a vendor typically uses many other services such as WebSphere, MQ, or SQL databases. The vendor doesn’t necessarily offer services for these migrations. All of these services must be migrated, and they must still work with each other afterwards.

HPE can manage the migration of the entire ecosystem - applications, application servers, middleware, databases, and other components. HPE offers robust and comprehensive tools to support the migration of Power Systems DB2 databases to other databases.

HPE Servers with a Spotlight on HPE Integrity Superdome X

The industry-leading HPE ProLiant x86 portfolio delivers comprehensive, versatile compute offerings for datacenter efficiency across diverse workloads and applications. In HPE’s mission-critical portfolio, let’s take a closer look at the x86-based mission-critical platform, the HPE Integrity Superdome X server.

The x86-based Superdome X supports industry-standard operating environments like Linux and Windows but draws upon decades of HPE’s UNIX server experience, delivering levels of availability, processing power, and serviceability typically found only on UNIX platforms with proprietary processors. For example, a Superdome X can be divided into electronically isolated hard partitions called HPE nPars. Each hard partition runs its own copy of the operating system and applications in isolation from the other partitions, making it an ideal environment for migrated workloads.

A recent comparison of the costs of an IBM Power System and an equivalent HPE system shows a TCO (total cost of ownership) savings with Superdome X of 41%, including a 75% reduction in hardware costs, a 38% reduction in software costs, and a 30% reduction in software support costs. In addition, Oracle licensing costs offer substantial savings, as described earlier.
HPE’s Methodology for Migration HPE provides a set of four core migration services to ensure fast, predictable results for most mission-critical systems. They include the following:1

Transformation Workshop and Platform Advisory Services

  • What happens during a UNIX migration?
  • What is the process to reduce risk?
  • What are the migration options?
  • Which is the best platform for the application workloads?

Migration Business-Case Service

  • Building a case to migrate for a specific application environment
  • Is the migration financially viable?
  • Is the migration technically viable?
  • Is the timeline valid?
  • What are the risks and mitigation strategies?

Migration Design and Planning Service

  • How to ensure a successful migration
  • Full scoping
  • Environment, application, code, and data analysis
  • Migration planning and timelines
  • Detailed implementation proposal and statement of work

Migration Implementation Service

  • Execute the migration plan.
  • Migrate applications, code, and data.
  • Product replacement
  • New infrastructure
  • Testing, rollout, and follow-on support

Case Studies

Pharmacy Chain

A chain of pharmacies has separate operations for wholesale distribution and retail functions. It had long relied on SAP for ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) running on IBM DB2 under AIX on Power Systems.

The company moved to SAP HANA and off its legacy databases to reduce costs and to increase scalability and flexibility. It moved to a Superdome X with two HPE nPars, one for the wholesale operations and one for the retail operations. Each has different requirements in terms of concurrent users and database size. Separating the environments made them easier to manage.


A manufacturing customer migrated its SAP retail system with DB2 to Integrity Superdome X. The company uses one HPE nPar as the production environment for its SAP ERP application and the other nPar for SAP HANA.


RI-Solution, located in Germany, has deployed two HPE Integrity Superdome X servers running Linux with three HPE nPars per server to deploy SAP applications. This configuration allows RI-Solutions to consolidate and standardize its hardware infrastructure, contain costs, increase availability, simplify business processes, and improve the performance of its mission-critical SAP applications.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise has over three decades of experience migrating many types of complex workloads for enterprise customers. Through its diverse experience in delivering successful migrations, including IBM Power Systems to open-standard platforms, HPE has learned what it takes to implement a successful migration and to manage the inherent risks. The performance, availability, and scalability of HPE’s broad compute portfolio deliver the power and capacity needed to ensure migrated applications meet service-level agreements so that customers can drive increased productivity and business growth. Through industry leadership and innovation, HPE’s server portfolio offers a comprehensive array of industry-standard platforms designed to help customers confidently modernize their data centers and take their businesses to the next level.  HPE employs proven processes and unique migration tools for IBM Power System migrations to open systems, and it has developed proven approaches to maximize the ability of the target environment to deliver better results for the line of business while reducing costs, often by more than 50%.