One of the best features of the IBM Power Systems line is that they can come pre-configured with several different OS’s. Linux, AIX, and IBM i are all supported natively. Windows is also supported through their Blade servers. Obviously, your choice of operating system platform is a vital decision to make, that can continue to have ramifications years down the line.
However, when it comes to the underlying operating system platform on your Power server, it really just depends on your setup. Every situation is unique, and it’s more a question of what will work best for you and your business.
The biggest advantage to using AIX as your underlying system is that it’s the basis for IBM’s PowerVM virtualization system. With that at the core of your server, it’s then possible to run any of the supported operating systems within their own virtual machines, at a very low performance penalty.
Further, on Power systems, AIX often provides superior performance. Again, results may vary, but in general, AIX can for example run 5-10% faster than a Linux install on the same machine. Also, as AIX is proprietary and has been in constant development since the 80s, it has a much more robust set of patch management tools than Linux, making for easier management.
As for Linux, it also a couple major benefits as an operating system platform. For one thing, it is considerably cheaper. This isn’t just in terms of licensing fees, but also in finding qualified techs to run it. Since the Power series natively supports some of the most popular flavors of Linux like Red Hat and SuSE, it can be far easier to find admins for it.
Plus, Linux does have significantly better software selection than AIX. Between the vast numbers of OSS applications available, and its ability to run many x86 apps natively without porting, it offers many more options in this regard.
IBM i, on the other hand, has the benefit of being coded from the ground up for Big Blue systems, which gives it an advantage in an all-IBM setup. It links to the IBM Systems Director series of management software, making it easy to operate and maintain, even over the web from remote locations.
Whichever operating system platform you choose, you’ll be putting them on one of the best servers in the market, and enjoying the benefit of IBM’s systems expertise.