AIX’s Partition Relocation Support Pushed to 2007; i5/OS V5R5 Support Unclear
October 2, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Earlier this year, the executives who are in charge of the development of IBM ‘s AIX Unix variant said that the company was working on an extension to its logical partitioning technology that would make logical machines portable across physical machines. That technology has been delayed, and is being pushed out into 2007, probably to coincide with the launch of Power6-based servers. This technology is widely expected to eventually make its way into the System i5 servers.
In January, Satya Sharma, the lead architect of the AIX platform at IBM, said that Big Blue was planning a maintenance release of AIX 5.3 for the second half of 2006 that had a neat feature called “partition relocation.” This feature is similar in concept to the VMotion feature of VMware’s ESX Server for X86 and X64 servers and a similar feature called partition migration that is in the open source Xen 3.0 hypervisor for X86 and X64 platforms from XenSource.
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. Such a feature opens up all kinds of possibilities for server management, high availability, and disaster recovery. Because i5/OS is also supported on the Power platform and is managed by the Virtualization Engine hypervisor as a peer, there seems to be no technical reason why partition relocation should not also be supported on the System i platform.
The update to the AIX 5.3 operating system that was to include the partition relocation feature was not part of IBM’s July 25 and August 22 Unix server announcements, and according to Karl Freund, vice president of product marketing for IBM’s System p5 division within its Systems and Technology Group, this update is not expected to come out in 2006. “We would have liked to get it out the door on Power5,” Freund explained. “But this is not just some little Intel server, and these are not just little infrastructure workloads we are moving around.”
Freund said that IBM does have partition relocation working in its Austin, Texas, AIX labs, and that it is running DB2 workloads on multiple servers connected to each other by a high-speed interconnect and sharing data stored on a storage area network.
IBM has been mum about when, and if, partition relocation will come to the System i. But it seems likely that if the code is working when AIX gets a patch to 5.3 or a new release to 5.4–whichever IBM does next year–then it should be available on i5/OS V5R5, too.