Cloud Walkers Updates IBM i Partition Manager, Slashes Prices
November 2, 2020 Timothy Prickett Morgan
All over the world, a lot of things are taking a bit longer to get done these days thanks to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But things are still getting done, and that is the main thing. So it is with Bartlomiej Grabowski, the founder and chief executive officer of Cloud Walkers, the startup based in Prague in the Czech Republic who released a tool called LPARKit, which we covered at its V1 release back in December 2019.
The plan, Grabowski tells The Four Hundred, was to take all of the input from the V1 users and spin up a V2 release sometime between May and June of this year, roughly six months after the product first came out. But, here in October, LPARKit V2 is here, and Grabowski wants to let you know that it is worth the wait.
Just a reminder. LPARKit is a tool for creating and managing logical partitions that uses many of the same management APIs as popular virtualization tools, such as the PowerVM hypervisor, the Hardware Management Console (HMC), the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS), the PowerVC variant of OpenStack (native to Power Systems) and various interfaces of external disk arrays such as IBM Storwize V5000 or V7000 SANs but sometimes the DS8000s SANs. The neat thing about LPARKit is that it doesn’t require you to use these tools, it is in a way an abstraction layer that either works like them or interfaces with them all from one place, and interestingly it presents all of this management from the familiar greenscreen that IBM i admins know and often still love. In this case, LPARKit is created for those who either don’t mind greenscreens or who love them, but who do not want to have to deal with the complexity of those interfaces. Particularly in small IBM i shops that are long on responsibilities and short on hands these days in particular.
The first new feature in LPARKit V2 is a new reporting function that can show all of the mapping of virtual SCSI drives in the logical partitions and dump that into a spool file or a CSV file. Users can map and unmap virtual adapters, including virtual storage and networking now. Interestingly, LPARKit does not need OpenStack drivers anymore to do some of its functions, and it also has a cloning feature that works over TCP/IP networks (meaning Ethernet) that does not need FlashCopy or Snapshot software running on IBM storage to work. Remember this is all done through the greenscreen interface that is native to IBM i.
LPARKit V2 does, like its predecessor, still have some requirements. IBM i shops have to have the logical partition that is hosting LPARKit be at the IBM i 7.2 TR6 level, and for those that are cloning operating systems, the clones have to be at IBM i 7.1 or higher. LPARKit hooks into and uses the APIs in PowerVM Standard Edition, HMC 8.8.4 or higher, and VIOS 2.2.4 or higher. For a lot of customers, it would be great to throw VIOS, a virtual HMC, and LPARKit into a single management partition and then just forget about it. There is one other twist here, and it is an important one. On P05 and P10 class machines – meaning entry Power systems, as we call them – there is no HMC required and VIOS is usually not required either to create and manage partitions. On these machines, they come with Virtual Partition Manager, which allows for up to five partitions to be created and managed. And on such boxes, LPARKit interfaces with Virtual Partition Manager. Once an HMC and VIOS show up on any system, then Virtual Partition Manager is disabled by IBM so there cannot be two different programs in control of the partitions.
In addition to the V2 release, Grabowski has cut the price LPARKit. The LPARKit Light Edition is still free, and it allows for logical partitions to be created from greenscreens using vSCSI or NPIV storage adapters. The LPARKit Gold Edition adds all of the other features – including deleting the partitions and removing the mappings of the partitions as well as cloning operating systems across partitions and mapping and unmapping vSCSI disks and managing virtual adapters, plus the new reporting functions. Here is the breakdown on the Gold Edition Pricing, but IBM i software tier:
- P05: Was $2,000 but is now $800, down 60 percent.
- P10: Was $4,000 but is now $1,500, down 62.5 percent
- P20: Was $6,000 but is now $3,000, down 50 percent
- P30 and higher: Was $10,000 but is now $6,000, down 40 percent.
The wonder is why there isn’t embedded versions of the HMC and VIOS that are installed by default and buried, hidden, in the IBM i operating system that let Virtual Partition Manager run on any machine. But IBM is going the other way, using PowerVC OpenStack and now Ansible to automate the configuration of partitions on a large scale and with more sophistication. But there is a large number of small IBM i users who don’t want to go anywhere near PowerVC or Ansible any more than they wanted to cope with the VIOS or the HMC. So we think there is a market for Cloud Walkers, even if there is not a sophisticated one.
Grabowski is working on LPARKit V3 now, which should be out in a few months, and in the meantime is hosting a bunch of webinars to show people how to use the tool. Check out our Four Hundred Monitor calendar to get the schedule.