One IBM Power Systems frame can host IBM i, Linux Red Hat or SUSE, or AIX/UNIX partitions in a single "footprint."
The history of IBM i has seen trends of decentralization as well as consolidation. In the first move toward consolidation, single data centers had multiple AS/400 systems, with user environments controlled strictly through subsystem technology. The next trend was consolidating multiple partitions on a single iSeries running OS/400 to physical I/O adapters and possibly virtual TCP/IP interfaces.
The latest Power7 developments put us in the middle of a revolution: You can now host multiple IBM i, AIX, and Linux partitions—potentially, fully virtualized micro-partitions—on a single box. Here are three technologies to help you join the movement.
Because subsystem definitions allowed administrators to segregate work into their own memory pools and distinct job queues, the IBM i OS and OS/400 (and i5/OS) could have multiple environments run on it concurrently. This was the first form of consolidation and is still strong today—in fact, with the horsepower on a single system, you can consolidate multiple systems and thousands of users onto a single box in a single partition.
Have multiple companies or divisions? Split them by subsystem, assigning each user environment to a job description that directs them to the proper subsystem and the appropriate libraries and directories. Want motivation? Thanks to subsystem technology, one of our customers consolidated more than 800 old AS/400s to six Power7 partitions running IBM i.
2. Independent Auxiliary Storage Pools
The second trend of consolidation was iASPs, which let administrators isolate data onto groups of disks that can switch between partitions. (Multiple iASPs can be attached to a single system.) This allows consolidation of multiple divisions, environments, workloads, or versions of an application. iASP technology also helped enable some of the virtualization technology—moving virtual partitions between systems—described in the next section.
Consolidation by virtualization has been around since System/38, when single-level storage technology allowed virtual pooling of RAM and DASD storage. Today, single-level storage allows processes and jobs to run without extra programming and database help to handle "big data."
Another technology is virtual media, which allows backups and product installs (even those across partitions) to run without physical media. Virtual technology can be combined with an iASP to back up a storage area, with the iASP attaching to another partition for recovery or archiving.
Virtual partition technology, available with PowerVM, allows as many IBM i, AIX, or Linux partitions to be created and enabled as are needed. They can be created to test a new cumulative PTF package, or a new version of the OS, and then be deleted. Test partitions let you validate a new release of application software. Virtual partitions can be suspended when unneeded, freeing up other space, or they can be copied. Suspended partitions are saved to disk much like a file or directory. The technology is similar to virtual memory, which sends pages of memory to disk and brings them back as needed.
Virtual partitions also cut power consumption and let you share CPU and I/O resources. They also allow active memory sharing, or dynamic exchange of memory between active virtual partitions. Finally, there's the crown jewel of virtualization: Live Partition Mobility, which allows moving of live active partitions between frames without outages to the user. It's similar to PowerHA, but quicker: you can activate copied partitions on the target frame in seconds.
IBM i, Unix, and Linux Consolidation
One IBM Power Systems frame can host IBM i, Linux Red Hat or SUSE, or AIX/UNIX partitions in a single "footprint." This is a great opportunity for server consolidation. And because those systems are supported in one place, this could be a great opportunity to consolidate duties or cross-train administrators. Bring factions together to discuss the advantages of consolidation: reduced power consumption, a single vendor, and a simplified, more flexible environment.
One other opportunity for consolidation is to host your x86 Windows servers disk on a Power Systems shared disk using iSCSI, so when your IBM i saves the Integrated File System (IFS), it also saves the Windows storage environment. There's nothing like the peace of mind you get from an IBM i backup.
Consolidating for Automation
Tools to automate jobs, message monitoring, and performance monitoring have also adapted to consolidation. Giving consolidation power to our job scheduler (Robot/SCHEDULE) and our message and resource monitor (Robot/CONSOLE), Robot/NETWORK can also consolidate system performance and Robot product information into a single view.
Ready to join the revolution? Download Help/Systems' white paper to learn how automation helps with consolidation.