Big Blue PowerVC, SmartCloud Entry Provisioning For IBM i
October 21, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As part of the October Power Systems announcements, IBM put out a new tool called PowerVC, which is short for Virtualization Center and which is a new management tool to set up and manage virtual machines on top of the PowerVM hypervisor.
Earlier this year, IBM committed to porting the KVM hypervisor to Power processors and also making the OpenStack cloud controller work in conjunction with the Power Systems, and PowerVC is one of several new products that are coming to market based on these efforts.
In announcement letter 213-409, you will see that what IBM has done is use OpenStack as a control layer on top of the entry Integrated Virtualization Manager, which is a relatively unsophisticated tool often used to spin up logical partitions on Power-based machines that actually runs on those Power servers, and the Hardware Management Console, which is the more sophisticated partition management system that runs out of band on an X86 server. IVM is generally used to add a few Linux partitions to a machine, and only allows for virtual I/O. The HMC is for more complex environments with IBM i, AIX, and Linux partitions and a mix of virtual and real I/O device drivers.
Steve Sibley, director of worldwide product management for IBM’s Power Systems line, says that PowerVC ships bundled into AIX Enterprise Edition and will be available as a standalone product that customers using other AIX editions or Linux or IBM i can buy separately. (More on IBM i and PowerVC in a second.)
“For Power Systems in particular, PowerVC replaces the VMControl functions that were embedded in Systems Director in the past,” says Sibley. “We will still have Systems Director and VMControl for cross platform setups, but we are strategically moving to PowerVC for Power-based virtualization management.”
Sibley adds that Systems Director with VMControl will co-exist with PowerVC, and if you have AIX Enterprise Edition today or Systems Director with VMControl, you can download PowerVC for free. PowerVC runs on its own partition on the Power System iron.
PowerVC comes in an Express Edition (5765-VCS) and a Standard Edition (5765-VCX), just like VMControl did. The Express Edition is aimed at IVM hypervisor setup, while the Standard Edition is tied to machines with HMCs. It works in conjunction with any Power Systems machine that has Power7 or Power7+ processors.
PowerVC is priced on a per-core basis for the systems under management, and the price varies based on the size of the machine. On AIX and Linux boxes, PowerVC Express costs $30 per core for small systems, and it is only available on small systems. PowerVC Standard Edition costs $80 per core on small machines, $120 per core on medium machines, and $160 per core on large machines.
Now to IBM i. In announcement letter 213-423, at the tail end, IBM put in a statement of direction that it will eventually allow PowerVC to manage systems running IBM i.
IBM also added that the SmartCloud Entry for Power cloud management tool, which is also getting an injection of OpenStack technology (in a way that IBM has not explained particularly well) will also be able to provision IBM i images to logical partitions on Power-based clouds. Exactly when IBM will do this is not clear.
In announcement letter 213-366, you will see that SmartCloud Entry, which is IBM’s homegrown, lightweight cloud management tool aimed at first-time cloud builders, has added the ability to support the KVM hypervisor on Power machines through the incorporation of “OpenStack technologies.” By adding KVM, SmartCloud Entry can in theory deploy images running wither Windows or Linux on top of the KVM hypervisor. The idea is that in a mixed Power-X86 environment, the Power edition of SmartCloud Entry can now provision on X86-based nodes that are, say, in a mixed PureSystems setup.