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Setting Up IBM i With PureFlex

IBM’s entry into the converged infrastructure world is the PureFlex system. The PureFlex system combines compute, network and storage into a single package with integrated management. This system provides an easy way to deploy existing workload or new workloads, including IBM i. However, prior to the release of IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 6 (TR6) the only way to connect the PureFlex packaged disk, IBM V7000, to IBM i was vSCSI through VIO server. With the release of 7.1 TR6, IBM took a large step toward fuller integration of IBM i into the PureFlex environment. This Technology Refresh introduces N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) connection to V7000, a technology that was only available on DS 5000, DS 6000 and DS 8000 technologies.

In this article, I’ll walk through the setup of an IBM i virtual server in a PureFlex environment.

Creating the Virtual Server

To create the Virtual Server, navigate to the Manage Power Systems Resources from the General Actions button on the Chassis Manager page. This will bring you into an interface that looks similar to the HMC/SDMC. From here, you can pick the compute node on which you’d like to create the IBM i virtual server (Actions>System Configuration>Create Virtual Server). Just like on the HMC/SDMC, the Flex System Manager (FSM) takes you through a wizard to create the virtual server definition.

  1. Name – Assign a name, partition ID (default to next available), OS type and other variables.
  2. Memory – Choose shared or dedicated memory (I always use dedicated memory) and the assigned memory in GBs.
  3. Processor – Choose shared or dedicated processors. If it’s shared, you can choose a processor pool as well. Also, choose the number of processors. Hint: The number of processors you pick for Assigned Processors actually translates to Virtual Processors and correlates 1 to 10 for the actual number of cores. So 1 Assigned Processor equals .1 core. You can adjust this later in the profile.
  4. Ethernet – Select the virtual Ethernet adapter and port VLAN to be assigned to the virtual server.
  5. Storage Selection – Select Yes to automatically manage storage adapters. This will save you the trouble of having to create and map the adapters within the VIO server. Choose Fibre Channel in the selection that appears after you have selected the Yes radio button.
    1. Storage – This step will appear once you click Next after the Storage Selection. This is where you’ll select which physical ports should be mapped to the virtual ports in the virtual server.
  6. Optical Devices – A virtual SCSI device will be created to emulate a CD/DVD ROM drive. You can preload this drive with the I_BASE_01_G resave if it’s available in your repository. If it’s not, it will need to be loaded at some point to IPL from.
  7. Physical I/O – Typically, in PureFlex, the VIO server owns all of the physical cards, so no selection is necessary here.
  8. Load Source/Console – The load source should point at the Fibre Channel that’s created in Step 5/5a. The alternate restart should point at the virtual SCSI Optical Device. Console can be Systems Director (aka FSM) or LAN console over Ethernet.
  9. SRIOV Logical Ports – Not currently used
  10. Summary – Summary of how the system will be configured

Once you’ve completed the virtual server setup, navigate back to the Manage Power Systems Resources, and select Virtual Servers under Power Systems Resources. This will show a list of all virtual servers on all Power Systems nodes. Find the virtual server you just created and select it. Then under Actions, select System Configuration>Manage Profiles. You’ll need to verify that the processors have been set up correctly. Remember not to overassign virtual processors. Also, you’ll need to collect the virtual WWPNs that were assigned to this server. This information can be collected by clicking on the adapter ID of the Client Fibre Channel adapter(s) on the Virtual Adapters tab. Record both WWPNs for all adapters created, as they will be needed in the SAN Zoning and Storage Provisioning sections.

SAN Zoning

To zone the SAN, you must first log in the virtual WWPNs so the switch can see them. This is accomplished in one of two ways:

  1. Activate the partition. This will of course fail, but it will give you the capability to manage the virtual server and activate the ports from the FSM GUI. The Manage Virtual Server function can be accessed from the Resource Explorer by selecting the virtual server you’re working with and going to the following menu: Actions>System Configuration>Manage Virtual Server.
  2. Use the chnportlogin command from an SSH session to the FSM.

Once the ports are logged in, you’ll see the virtual WWPNs appear on the SAN switch. From here, create an alias for the virtual server. Next, create a new zone in the current or a new zone set with the alias of the virtual server and the alias of the V7000 (created by default in a PureFlex environment).

Storage Provisioning

The final step in the setup is to provision the storage. This is accomplished in three steps:

  1. Create the host. On the V7000, create a new Fibre Channel host definition with the virtual WWPNs from the virtual server.
  2. Create the volumes (aka LUNs). I recommend creating only one or two volumes for the initial load source. You can easily add additional volumes later.
  3. Map the volumes to the host.

Once these steps are complete, everything has been set up to activate the virtual server and start the OS installation.

Activating the Partition

After the setup is complete in the PureFlex environment, you can D-Manual IPL the server and select the option to install the Licensed Internal Code (LIC). When you reach the disk selection, you’ll see the volumes you provisioned earlier as type 2145 and model 050. This will confirm successful mapping and provisioning of the V7000 disk utilizing NPIV technology. Now you can complete the installation of the LIC and OS and take full advantage of your IBM i PureFlex environment.

Andrew Goade is an architect for Forsythe Technology Inc. He can be reached at

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