What Does VIOS Do for Your Business?

PowerVM is the underlying virtualization technology of an IBM Power server. Using its Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) feature, PowerVM allows you to dynamically allocate and share the following resources on IBM Power server partitions: CPU, I/O, and Adapters.

A VIOS is a special Power server partition that virtualizes system resources, allowing hardware resources to be shared between several AIX, i, and Linux virtual partitions. Virtual partitions can access multiple VIOS partitions, to use different hardware resources that are owned by each VIOS partition.

Companies using VIOS generally deploy paired VIOS servers to insure virtualization redundancy. If one VIOS partition is unavailable, their virtual partitions will still be able to access hardware resources through the second paired VIOS partition.

What PowerVM and VIOS can do for your business

VIOS running under PowerVM offers the following advantages to an IBM Power system shop.

  • Cuts Power system hardware and costs – Power owners buy fewer hardware resources because adapter cards and CPU can be shared between AIX, i, and Linux virtual partitions. Power virtual partitions can share Storage Area Network (SAN) devices with network servers, keeping their network and Power system data on the same device. Lightly used devices such as backup drives and DVDs can also be shared through VIOS. Unused CPU cycles can be dynamically assigned to partitions needing more CPU power. You no longer have to buy dedicated hardware for each partition.
  • Increases reliability – VIOS can be leveraged to provide hardware redundancy for all Power virtual partitions. You can aggregate multiple network adapters into a single pseudo-adapter that can be assigned to one or more partitions. If one physical adapter fails, the next adapter in the adapter list picks up (other network fail-over technologies are also available). Redundant VIOS partitions can provide dual access to a SAN; if one SAN connection or a VIOS partition fails, the other VIOS partition will pick up and keep that SAN connected for your virtual partitions. Fibre channel access can also be accessed by multiple paths through paired VIOS partitions.
  • Cuts Power server maintenance – Customers pay less IBM hardware maintenance when they buy fewer shared hardware resources, than they would pay using partitions with dedicated hardware resources.

These aren’t the only benefits that come with implementing PowerVM. More benefits can be realized by employing other PowerVM technologies such as micro-partitioning, multiple shared process pools (SPPs), N Port Virtualization ID (NPIV), Virtual Tape, and Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV), which we’ll look at in future articles.

Is PowerVM free?

PowerVM is a licensed IBM product that includes all the tools needed to create VIOS partitions and use other virtualization technologies. It’s a relatively inexpensive product, and the cost is easily offset by the savings you’ll realize through virtualization.

PowerVM comes in Standard and Enterprise editions. The Enterprise edition contains all the features that are included with the Standard edition plus the Live Partition Mobility and Active Memory Sharing features. PowerVM can be purchased with a new Power server or added to an existing eligible Power server.

When should I use PowerVM and VIOS?

PowerVM works best on machines that have two or more virtual partitions. If your Power server is a single partition machine such as a high availability system, there is no need to buy PowerVM as that partition already owns all the hardware resources.

PowerVM and VIOS configurations take some planning and initial configuration, possibly using services from IBM or a business partner. But once the server is set up, PowerVM and your VIOS partitions are relatively maintenance free until you upgrade or change your hardware.

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

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