5 Business Reasons to Use IBM Virtualization for Processor Sharing

We recently talked about how IBM virtualization can share disk and network resources between IBM Power server partitions. But did you know that you can also share processor capacity between different AIX, Linux, and IBM i partitions residing on an IBM Power server? IBM processor virtualization can provide real benefits for your business in the following areas:

  • Cutting hardware acquisition, licensing, and maintenance costs
  • Creating single-function micro-partitions with minor CPU utilization
  • Sharing and swapping processor resources between partitions, reducing the need for additional processors
  • Improving CPU utilization by using all of your processing power all the time
  • Using consolidation to combine and eliminate one or more IBM Power servers when upgrading hardware, after an acquisition, or moving to the cloud

Here’s how IBM processor virtualization works and how it can benefit your business.

Two ways to assign processors to Power partitions

When configuring Power partitions, you configure your partitions to use processor capacity in these two modes:

Dedicated mode – Physical processors are dedicated to a single partition. Processor capacity is fixed, and no additional processor capacity can be automatically assigned to that partition.

Shared mode – Processor capacity consists of an entitled minimum processor capacity (in processing units as small as .1 or .05 processors, depending on Power system model) and virtual processors. Virtual processors allow partitions to dynamically add additional processing capacity from extra processors residing in a shared processor pool. A shared partition can exceed its entitled CPU capacity, as more power is needed and available from the shared pool.

In a nutshell, this is what IBM processor virtualization does. But what’s more important is why you want to use IBM virtual processors and what they do for your business.

Why use IBM processor virtualization?

Here are five benefits you can receive by configuring IBM Power partitions to use virtual processors:

  1. Cutting down on IBM Power server costs – CPUs are expensive when you take into account activation costs, operating system costs, and IBM and third-party licensing and maintenance costs. And most of these costs are often licensed by (you guessed it) the number of processors on a system. Using virtual processors and a shared processor pool, two or more partitions can share a small number of physical processors. Fewer physical processors drive down the number of active processors on your Power system, which in turn drives down the cost of upgrading, buying, leasing, or maintaining IBM Power hardware.
  2. Creating single-function AIX, Linux, and i micro-partitions whose processing power can be scaled upward and downward, as needed. Special purpose partitions can share processors. You could create a .1 CPU Linux print server partition, a.25 processor IBM i developer partition, a .15 CPU backup partition, a .50 CPU Web environment residing in the DMZ, or all of the above. Lightly used partitions can share a small number of processors and donate to or access unused shared processor pool resources. IBM Power partitions share and swap CPU resources as needed, again reducing the need for additional processors and their attendant costs.
  3. Protecting production system processing – With CPU virtualization, you can set up your production environment as a shared partition and give it higher priority access to unused processing power in the shared processor pool.Partitions can be weighted for different priorities in obtaining additional processor units from the shared processor pool. A higher weighted production partition can quickly scale-up and grab unused processing units, without having to fight for them with lower weighted partitions. This is particularly valuable when more power is immediately needed for intense processing periods, such as end-of-day job streams or nightly maintenance. A highly weighted production partition can also be protected from giving up excessive processing units to run-away jobs running on lower weighted partitions.
  4. Improving resource utilization – Sharing CPUs through shared processor pools insures that all of your CPU resources are in use, as needed. You can reduce excessive or unused CPU power that might be assigned to a dedicated partition. All of your CPU power is available all the time with very little waste.
  5. Enabling system consolidation – IBM processor virtualization along with disk, network, and other resource virtualization, makes it easier and more practical to consolidate multiple Power systems onto a single system. It keeps your costs down when combining systems from an acquired company onto a larger system or moving your partitions to the cloud. You can eliminate and move older Power systems onto a newer IBM Power server. Sharing resources makes server consolidation more affordable and manageable.

Virtual processors allow you to perform more processing with fewer processors. Configuring shared partitions with virtual processors will take more planning and initial configuration over using a dedicated partition, usually requiring expert assistance from IBM business partners. But processor virtualization set up is a one-time configuration that will provide these important benefits for years to come.

Contact us at ABC Services to learn more about how we can help you make better use of your IBM Powers system hardware through IBM virtualization, or to upgrade your existing hardware to a new IBM Power server.

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