Cross-Server Partitions Coming for i5/OS?
January 30, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Last week, The Unix Guardian, our sister publication for the Unix platform, reported that IBM had created a five-year roadmap for its AIX Unix variant to give customers and business partners an idea–under non-disclosure, of course–of what was in store for this operating system and its associated pSeries platform. (See AIX: 20 Years Down, Many More to Go for more information on IBM’s plans for its Unix platform.)
In talking to the lead architect of the AIX platform, IBM distinguished engineer Satya Sharma, he revealed to me that Big Blue was planning a maintenance release of AIX 5.3 for the second half of 2006 that had a neat feature in it–one that could and should end up in the iSeries platform eventually.
This feature is tentatively called “partition relocation,” and it is similar in concept to the VMotion feature of VMware‘s ESX Server for X86 and X64 servers and a similar feature expected this year in the open source Xen 3.0 hypervisor for X86 and X64 platforms. Partition relocation will allow the Virtualization Engine hypervisor to span multiple, physically separated servers and allow workloads running in a logical partition on one machine in either AIX or Linux to be passed to another machine’s AIX or Linux partitions, on the fly and over the network. This is a very cool feature, and it opens up all kinds of possibilities for server management, high availability, and disaster recovery. Sharma would not confirm is whether this feature is coming to i5/OS, but it seems likely. IBM might present it as a core operating system feature that high availability software can tap into, for instance, as it does for remote journaling. I’ll try to chase down IBM’s plans for i5/OS and the iSeries concerning this new partition capability.