Virtualization Technology News and Information
IBM Demonstrates a UNIX Virtualization Exclusive
In a showcase technology forum here today, IBM highlighted a breakthrough virtualization technique behind IBM's POWER6 microprocessor with a demonstration of Live Partition Mobility, a feature that will enable the movement of computer workloads from one IBM UNIX system to another while both systems are running. In June, IBM shipped its first System p 570 servers with the POWER6 processor -- the world's fastest chip -- containing a unique design that creates dozens to hundreds of "virtual" servers on a single box. Live Partition Mobility, currently in beta testing with general availability planned later this year, is a continuous availability feature that will enable POWER6-based servers, such as the System p 570, to move live logical partitions -- including the entire operating system and all its running applications -- from one server to another while the systems are running. The technology will enable companies to effectively manage and maintain their servers with the potential to become more energy efficient in the process.

While competing UNIX offerings require a disruptive reboot of the UNIX system and software stack, IBM is the first vendor to help clients optimize resource utilization on a broader scale by allowing administrators to think of large groups of servers as a fluid resource rather than focusing on each server as a single entity with a dedicated purpose. Because Live Partition Mobility is implemented in the POWER6 chip, hardware and its associated firmware, the feature is operating system independent, allowing the movement of AIX or Linux operating systems and associated running workloads. For instance, using Live Partition Mobility customers will be able to dynamically consolidate UNIX or Linux workloads -- without interruption -- onto fewer servers during off-peak times, allowing them to turn off computers and save energy.

Sageza Report
Live Partition Mobility, one of the many unique capabilities of the POWER6 processor, was highlighted in a recent study by The Sageza Group, where it was described as "one of the very compelling aspects of the new p570" in a report on POWER6. "This ability to move virtual partitions seamlessly -- i.e., without suspending them followed by a reboot -- between any suitably equipped System p allows administrators to treat servers as a pooled resource as opposed to a workload specific model," said Clay Ryder, president, The Sageza Group.

"In addition, partition mobility bolsters the energy efficiency discussion even further. Just as electric utilities constantly monitor generation facilities to optimize output per minimum production cost, so too will IT personnel be able to move workloads to the systems that can bear the workload at the minimal cost per computational unit. Being able to adjust workloads to maximize performance while minimizing power consumption brings a new factor into data center planning. Clever deployment and redeployment of workloads could result not only in notable energy savings, but also in averted capital expenditures to augment data center floor space, cooling, or electrical capacity."

Live Partition Mobility
Live Partition Mobility works by replicating memory pages from one partition to another in a way that is transparent to the operating system and applications running in the partition. It can thus be used to migrate workloads running on AIX or Linux operating systems on any POWER6 partition and includes support for AIX 5.2, AIX 5.3, AIX 6 and for both Red Hat and Novell SUSE Linux.

The virtualization process begins with a warm-up period during which the bulk of the memory is replicated between the source server and destination partitions. A guest operating system can then be migrated from one host to another in less than two seconds without losing transactions, even when running applications with high utilization of CPU and I/O resources, such as a large database several hundreds of gigabytes in size processing thousands of transactions per minute.

"The elimination of downtime, including minimizing planned outages, is crucial for our customers, and is a core component of the IBM Information Management strategy," said Bernie Spang, director IBM data servers. "The combination of DB2 9 'Viper' and Live Partition Mobility on AIX and System p will provide a powerful new capability that is unmatched in the industry and demonstrates the deep integration of DB2, AIX and System p technologies."

Costs of downtime include business losses due to supply chain disruption, inability of customers or partners to access online systems and other effects caused by outages. IBM estimates this function could save as much as 50 percent of the cost of downtime over a five-year period.

"Today's demonstration shows just a few of the amazing exclusive capabilities POWER6 can bring to our customers," said Scott Handy, vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM Power Systems. "This unique technology sets the standard for excellence. Armed with the world's fastest microprocessor and the recent benchmark grand slam, we are now well-positioned to ride the groundswell of momentum into the future and further our ongoing share gains in the UNIX market."

IBM's virtualization leadership and performance is a key factor in the steady stream of HP/UX and Solaris migrations to the IBM UNIX platform. Since the beginning of 2006, IBM has logged more than 700 competitive wins with companies who have used IBM's Migration Factory or Server Consolidation Factory to move workloads to System p UNIX servers -- including more than 250 wins in the first half of this year. Customers indicate that the powerful combination of performance, virtualization and systems management capabilities have helped them optimize their IT environments with IBM System p servers.

About IBM System p servers
Renowned for their computing power, IBM System p servers and workstations support user needs across a broad range of applications, including transaction processing, web publishing, data mining, systems management and others. This family of 1-to 64-core IBM Power processor-based systems is designed to provide customers with leadership features for high performance, availability, scalability and dynamic resource allocation. Unique IBM virtualization features allow users to process more information on a single server, creating the potential to save on total cost of system ownership, as well as space and energy costs.

System p products are designed for smaller and mid-sized business and large enterprises that are using UNIX platforms. The servers use AIX, IBM's open UNIX operating system, and also support thousands of Linux-based applications. Migration services enable customers to quickly and easily convert from competing platforms -- such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard -- to IBM hardware.

System p servers are powered by IBM's leadership technology, including the POWER6 microprocessor, the world's fastest chip, built using IBM's state-of-the-art 65 nanometer process technology. At 4.7GHz, the dual-core POWER6 processor doubles the speed of the previous generation POWER5 while using nearly the same amount of electricity to run and cool it, meaning customers can use the new processor to either increase their performance by 100 percent or cut their power consumption virtually in half.

For more information on IBM System p servers and offerings, please visit

Published Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:22 PM by David Marshall
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