As expected, the first phase of what has been called “VIOS Next Generation” or “NextGen VIOS” was released on December 9th as “VIOS 2.2 SP01″. I recently installed it on my test cluster and put it through its paces to see what was included in the nearly 900MB download.
First of all, pay close attention to the README prior to installing this code. There are more than a few caveats that are important to pay attention to. Some notable one are:
- The reject option of updateios is not supported in this release. Once you install this service pack, you are committed.
- The new shared storage pool functionality requires 4 GB of RAM in the VIO server.
- There is a maximum of one (1) VIOS node per shared storage cluster in this release.
- VIO servers that host shared storage pools may not participate in Live Partition Mobility operations or Partition Suspend/Resume Operations.
- VIO clients that make use of storage from shared storage pools are not supported for Live Partition Mobility
There are more caveats that may apply in your environment, so again, please carefully read the README before applying the code.
First of all, this VIOS level identifies itself as:
The underlying AIX is:
# oslevel -s
So we’re dealing with a very recent AIX 6.1 TL as the underlying system. It’s probably not a coincidence that this AIX 6.1 TL introduced support for Cluster Aware AIX.
I built a one-node cluster and assigned two LUNs to it as members of a storage pool. It is obvious from naming conventions that the VIOS clustering code is built on Cluster Aware AIX. This, I think, is a good thing. As mentioned in the README, only a single node “cluster” is supported. In fact, there is no way to add a second node via the standard VIOS interface. I was able to coerce a second node into the cluster by dropping into the oem_setup_env and running AIX commands, but this rendered the VIOS level environment inoperable. Removing the cluster became problematic at this point as well.
Given the limitations of the environment, I didn’t experiment with assigning storage. Nagger has an overview of the storage assignments on his AIX Expert blog. Thankfully, legacy vSCSI and NPIV storage management techniques still work in this release, so it is safe to use in production. Only the new shared storage pool functionality is limited.
The new shared storage pool functionality is obviously not yet ready for production use. I share Nigel’s assessment of this being a “Preview release”. I do not believe that this will be useful until at least 2-node clusters are supported and the limitations on Live Partition Mobility lifted. According to the technology roadmaps I have seen, these functions are in the works and will be released over the next year.
Overall, I remain enthusiastic over the NextGen VIOS strategy. My largest environments mostly use vSCSI for storage management, and I’m ready for better storage management techniques to be a part of VIOS. This release shows me that IBM is hard at work at making this goal a reality.