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BladeCenter: More Than Intel Inside

February 01, 2008

I was tuned in for playoff football, but when I was too slow with my remote control and my DVR, I found myself watching an IBM BladeCenter commercial. Surely you've caught some of the spots:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPm4IHY6vvg&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuWvBy3Ttc4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGX1QpLIbSA&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmmiJJOyJm0&feature=related

A quick search of "IBM blades" on YouTube yields some interesting material, including commercials, demonstrations and comparisons. In many cases you're pointed to IBM's Web site, which also offers useful information, like how the BladeCenters are designed to help reduce power, cooling and cabling costs.

What caught my attention with many of these commercials is the message that the blades have Intel inside. Sure, that's great for my Windows and Linux administrators, but why should AIX or i5/OS administrators care about BladeCenter? Two reasons: the IBM BladeCenter JS22 Express and the IBM BladeCenter JS21 Express.

The JS22 has POWER6 processors on a blade. When would you consider deploying these POWER blades? Maybe you need to refresh some older standalone machines  with newer hardware. Blades might be great for consolidating smaller machines, or they might make a terrific test lab or QA environment. With a POWER6 processor, this solution may be suitable for larger workloads as well.

Depending on the size of your shop, running some Intel servers along with your AIX/Linux servers in the same chassis could make sense. In my case, I had spare slots in an existing BladeCenter H chassis and was able to quickly and easily load a JS21 and a JS22.  Neither of them had an OS loaded, and although I could have loaded AIX 5.3 or AIX 6.1 directly onto the hardware, I chose VIO 1.5 instead. This loads the Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) onto the blade, allowing me to carve up my blades into LPARs using an interface similar to that of the new HMC v7. One of those blades currently runs three LPARs, the other runs four. I run VIO, Linux, AIX 5.3 and AIX 6.1 on the same blade.   

The JS21 can have two internal drives and the JS22 can have one, so to really benefit from running multiple LPARs, I strongly recommend connecting the BladeCenter to a SAN-based storage solution.

How do you begin loading an OS onto the blade? First, run the secure shell command (ssh) and log into the BladeCenter environment. Then run:

console –o –T blade[x]

where x is the blade number that you're connecting to. From here, load the VIO server. Once the VIO server had an IP address, connect to it, and a Web browser front end comes up. Then log into the IVM and start carving up LPARs.   

For more information, click here.

Posted February 01, 2008 | Permalink

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