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AIX > Administrator > Performance

AIX Enhancements -- Workload Partitioning

The most exciting POWER6 enhancement, live partition mobility, allows one to migrate a running LPAR to another physical box and is designed to move running partitions from one POWER6 processor-based server to another without any application downtime whatsoever.



 

Performance

What about performance? With an LPAR, you need to work with the hypervisor, IBM’s paravirtualization software, which resides between the OS and the hardware. The hypervisor itself adds a degree of overhead to partitioned environments. Since the WPAR operates more like a virtual private server, it shouldn’t add any real performance overhead to the partition.

Truthfully, I wasn’t that excited about WPARs when I first heard about its introduction. I knew many Solaris administrators with no use for containers because they shared a common OS image and they loved the IBM partitioned strategy, which provided real portioned isolation. I was disappointed as I felt the IBM strategy of having one virtualization and partitioning solution added to its message of clarity. However, on further review, I see the WPAR as a real complement to LPARs, not a replacement. You’ll be able to place WPARs within either dedicated or shared LPARs, allowing for more granularity than any other UNIX-based solution.

For example, one can have separate LPARs on a physical server defined by business department, such as Finance. Within the Finance group, you can then define multiple WPARs for each application. IBM has stated users will be able to create these specialized partitions in a matter of minutes. You’ll even be able to do this either from SMIT! Booting, which will also be extremely quick, as opposed to booting up an LPAR.

One also need not go through the Hardware Management Console (HMC) to create these partitions because this feature doesn’t rely on the hypervisor, which drives IBM’s APV strategy. Further, there will be a Workload Partitions Manager, which will allow you to manager WPARs across multiple systems. This provides a console to allow a graphical interface to allow the following actions on these partitions: create and remove, start and stop, monitor and report status. It will also provide infrastructure optimization and load balancing. Workload Partitions Manager will be a part of the IBM System Director Family.

Live Application Mobility

Live application mobility allows running WPARs to be moved from one physical server to another. See Figure 1.

This feature provides automatic, policy-based relocation of workloads between systems. While the obvious benefit here is providing increased flexibility when scheduling downtime, it can also be used for multi-system workload balancing. The systems administrator now has the capability to move working loads around multiple servers. For example, if one of your frames is really breathing heavy and has already maxed out on its processor pool, while another is barely being utilized, you can increase performance in a hurry by just shifting the workload from one frame to another. This also can help the datacenter conserve costs by allowing operators the ability to transfer workloads to fewer systems. It’s important to note that while one can move Solaris zones around, the zones must be halted and can’t be in a running state. The Workload Partitions Manager will be the management interface to live application mobility.

Heightened features, manageability and flexibility

It looks like IBM has brought itself another winner with these WPAR enhancements to AIX. While not really a part of its APV strategy, it provides additional capabilities and increased flexibility to its virtualization offerings. Introduced at virtually (pardon the pun) the same time as the POWER6 architecture (along with its own virtualization enhancements), these features clearly illustrate how these innovations complement one another. While it will take some time for the average AIX administrator to fully understand how to use WPARs most effectively, Solaris administrators should embrace this enhancement as it’s similar in many ways to Solaris containers, albeit with more features, better manageability and increased flexibility.

 

Ken Milberg, CATE, PMP, is a diverse IT Professional with 20+ years of experience. He is a Power Systems Champion. Ken is a technology writer and site expert for techtarget and has also been a frequent contributor of content for IBM developerWorks. Ken has also been a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine and is a former technical editor. He can be reached at kmilberg@gmail.com



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AIX Enhancements -- Workload Partitioning

The most exciting POWER6 enhancement, live partition mobility, allows one to migrate a running LPAR to another physical box and is designed to move running partitions from one POWER6 processor-based server to another without any application downtime whatsoever.

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