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TechTip: Simplifying PowerVM Enterprise Virtualization Management with IBM PowerVC

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Partnering the PowerVM hypervisor with Power Virtualization Center (PowerVC), IBM's new enterprise virtualization management solution for Power Systems, is an assured way to bring tremendous value to your organization.

 

IBM Power Systems have always provided huge "bang for the buck" through industry-leading hardware coupled with all of the features you would expect from an enterprise-grade hypervisor (i.e., PowerVM). Power Systems are generally managed via either the Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) or the Hardware Management Console (HMC). While both of these platform management solutions provide administrators with all the knobs and buttons to manage their systems (and will continue to do so), IBM recognizes the need for a simple, user-friendly solution that focuses on enterprise virtualization management to streamline your day-to-day virtualization management tasks and unleash the many strengths of IBM Power Systems. This is where PowerVC is called to duty!

Why PowerVC?

Today's IT world requires everyone to get more work done faster and cheaper than we have ever seen before. Long gone are the days when you could tell someone, "Sure, that will take about three weeks" when they ask you for a sandbox/development virtual machine (LPAR in PowerVM terminology)—that is, without getting a very puzzled and frustrated look in response.

 

This is exactly where PowerVC comes to the rescue; its primary objective is to simplify and expedite the everyday use cases with respect to enterprise virtualization management on the PowerVM hypervisor via an intuitive GUIoh and by the way, also allow more "expert users" to exploit the platform via more advanced menus as appropriate so you can still take advantage of such features (e.g., shared vs. dedicated processors, processor compatibility modes, SEA failover, etc.) when needed.

 

With PowerVC and three or four clicks of the mouse, you can perform an end-to-end deployment of an image (i.e., an entity that's been preloaded with your guest OS and any additional software packages) and have the resulting LPAR up and running on the network in a matter of minutes!

Key Features of PowerVC

Before I elaborate on the key functional aspects of PowerVC, allow me to briefly touch on some of PowerVC's underlying mechanics—OpenStack and its flourishing ecosystem. A few weeks back, I wrote an article on the open-source OpenStack project and all the benefits it brings to the cloud world—and it's this same technology on which PowerVC is built! This means that PowerVC can leverage and embrace OpenStack's new functional capabilities, third-party drivers (e.g., for enablement of additional storage devices), thriving development and user ecosystem—and pass along all these benefits PowerVC's users.

 

All right, enough already—what can PowerVC help you with? Here is a brief rundown of some of PowerVC's key features:

  • Quick registration of your infrastructure's components (e.g., HMCs, Power CECs, SAN fabrics, storage devices, etc.)
  • One-stop menu for configuration-related activities, such as:
    • Specifying the VM placement policy, which dictates how VMs will be placed among the hosts in your datacenter
    • Creating compute templates, which are preconfigured templates of how many processor units, how much memory, etc. should be assigned to LPARs at deployment time (i.e., each time you deploy an image, you may elect to assign different amounts of resource to it based on whether it's a production, development, test, etc. deployment)
    • Creating storage templates, which dictate various aspects of how data volumes are created (e.g., whether they're thin provisioned, the grain size, etc.)
    • Creating storage connectivity groups (SCGs), which allow you to create sets of CEC + VIOS pairs for deployments, essentially providing you with the ability to hone in on which VIO Servers are candidates for certain deployments
  • Ability to onboard existing LPARs in your environment for management through PowerVC
  • Capability to capture existing LPARs to create a new image for subsequent deployments; this essentially packages up the LPAR's OS and any installed software for repeatable deployments
  • The option to create networks (static or DHCP) to be used for client LPAR communication
  • Ability to perform all standard LPAR lifecycle operations, such as start, stop, resize, live migrate, capture, delete, etc.
  • Management of data volumes—that is, create, attach, detach, and delete data volumes for usage with LPARs
  • Support for NPIV and Shared Storage Pool (SSP, new in PowerVC 1.2.1) storage connectivity
  • Simplified user management either via local PowerVC management server OS users or via your enterprise's LDAP server
  • Management of PowerVC via its simple-to-use graphical user interface (GUI), or customization of PowerVC in your shop using its publicly documented standard development kit (SDK)

 

PowerVC comes in two editions—Express, which targets IVM-managed systems, and Standard, which targets HMC-managed systems. Additionally, PowerVC 1.2.1 (released on June 10, 2014) adds support for the newly announced POWER8 hardware as well as the PowerKVM hypervisor! For more detailed information, feel free to check out the PowerVC Information Center.

That's Great! How Do I Get Started?

By now, you've got to be eagerly wondering, "So how can I get my hands on PowerVC and give it a whirl?" You're in luck; there are plenty of avenues! For starters, you may already be entitled to download PowerVC. If you've purchased AIX Enterprise Edition (V6/7), Systems Director Enterprise/Standard, Systems Director VMControl Enterprise/Standard or SmartCloud Entry bundle for Power (and you're current on software maintenance), then you're already entitled to PowerVC and can read more about how to download PowerVC in these instances.

 

If you're interested in trying out PowerVC without configuring it in your own environment, you can take advantage of IBM's PowerVC Hosted Trial via the Service Management Connect program. That is, you can sign up for a 2-3 day trial of PowerVC using hardware hosted within IBM and get a good feeling for the product—all provided at no cost to you!

 

Last, but certainly not least, feel free to read more about PowerVC and how to purchase on PowerVC's ibm.com webpage, PowerVC's Facebook page, or PowerVC's LinkedIn group. There's a large ecosystem of other clients and IBMers who are always willing to help new users come aboard. See you soon!

Joe Cropper is a Software Engineer at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota. He works as part of the Cloud Systems Software Development organization, focusing on virtualization and cloud management solutions. Joe has held a number of roles in other organizations as well, ranging from IBM i and Electronic Support. His areas of expertise include virtualization and cloud management, OpenStack, Java EE, and multi-tiered applications. Joe can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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