IBM Updates Virtualization Engine for Multiplatform Management
by Alex Woodie
Part of IBM's Systems Agenda is making it easier to manage groups of disparate servers, and one of the key deliverables in this area is Big Blue's Virtualization Engine technology. IBM last week announced updates to several Virtualization Engine technologies, including new capabilities for managing zSeries and pSeries servers from Virtualization Engine consoles, new workload management algorithms, and a new tool for visualizing the inter-dependencies of applications, even if they're not running on the same platform.
While many virtualization offerings on the market today enable a user to carve up a big multiprocessor box into a bunch of partitions that look like smaller servers, IBM's stated goal with its Virtualization Engine technology is to take multiple servers (in this case, servers running on different operating systems), and introduce a level of cohesion to get them to cooperate and act more like single entity. And IBM is not only trying to build some automation between applications running on its own platforms, such as i5/OS, z/OS, AIX, and Linux, but decidedly un-IBM platforms like Windows, HP-UX, and Solaris.
IBM's Virtualization Engine technology offerings consist of several products, including the IBM Director with Virtualization Engine Console, the Virtualization Engine Enterprise Workload Manager (EWLM) Domain Manager, and various EWLM agents.
With IBM Director 5.1 (the second release of the product, despite what its version and release number tell you), IBM is expanding the breadth of operating system support. While the first release only supported i5/OS, AIX 5L, and Linux, the new release of Director expands that list to include Windows, Linux on X86, Linux on mainframe, and mainframe (via z/VM). IBM expects to ship Director 5.1 on December 16.
Other new features with this release include: a customizable table view of system detail that can be sorted and reordered; a "new event" action plan wizard that helps monitor the health of your new servers quickly; user interface improvements; new software health-check facilities; and new agents.
The IBM Director and Virtualization Engine Console for i5/OS 5.10 will begin shipping with i5/OS starting January 10, IBM says, although users will be able to start ordering it via the iSeries configurator starting December 13.
Enterprise Workload Manager 2.1
There is also a second release of the Enterprise Workload Manager (EWLM) tool on the horizon. IBM characterizes its EWLM tool as "a dynamic policy-based workload-management system that optimizes resources in multi-tier heterogeneous application environments," including applications such as data mining, Web-banking, e-mail, and B2B inventory management.
This second release, called Virtualization Engine Enterprise Workload Manager (EWLM) for i5/OS version 2.1, will replace the first version, which was called the Virtualization Engine for iSeries, Enterprise Workload Manager option. (As you can tell, IBM is working to bring its naming schemes under control. In the meantime, we will all try not to become hopelessly confused.)
IBM is striving to improve the automatic management of servers with EWLM 2.1. New algorithms in this release are aimed at dynamically adjusting CPU allocation in logical partitions (LPARs) to adapt to changing conditions, and to meet business goals. This release also brings automatic detection of server topology, better load-balancing capabilities, and overall ease-of-use enhancements in systems management.
EWLM Domain Manager running on i5/OS will be able to monitor and manage other servers running i5/OS V5R3, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9 running on Power-based servers (via fixpack in the first quarter), AIX 5.2 and 5.3, and SLES 9 running on X86-based servers (in Q1 via fixpack), as long as SLES is running on outboard xSeries servers connected to the iSeries via Integrated xSeries Adapter (IXA) cards.
In its announcement (see Software Announcement 205-290), IBM also talked about being able to manage HP-UX servers from Hewlett-Packard, but there was no HP-UX agent on the list of supported operating systems.
There are various sizing considerations to take into account when deploying EWLM. IBM has a PDF white paper on this topic, which you can open in another browser window by clicking here.
Like the IBM Director and Virtualization Engine Console for i5/OS version 5.10, EWLM for i5/OS version will be available January 10, and will be orderable via the iSeries configurator starting December 13.
Resource Dependency Service
IBM has also updated another piece of software that plays a part in its Systems Agenda and "On-Demand" strategy, and works with the Virtualization Engine Console and EWLM Domain Manager products. It's called the Virtualization Engine Resource Dependency Service (RDS), and it displays a static image representing various assets that make up heterogeneous IT environments, including servers, networks, storage, and applications. IBM says RDS works with non-IBM servers.
Once you have a view of these various resources, RDS helps you map out how the different business processes interrelate, and enables you to correlate how outages at various points of the topology will impact you, including business costs. RDS runs on Linux (including Power- and X86-based variations) and will be available February 10.