AIX > Administrator > Systems Management

What’s New in Infrastructure Project Management

IT Infrastructure

Several years ago, I wrote a series of articles on Infrastructure Project Management as it related to AIX, Linux and Power technology, where I referenced a server consolidation project. As the series was very well-received, I have revisited this topic. In this article, I will provide updates that reflect the current technological landscape, as well as changes through the years in overall project management discipline, which can impact your ability to succeed as a project manager.

Technology

My last series on Project Management covered POWER6, running on AIX 5.3. There was no such thing as VIO servers, Workload Partitioning (WPARs) and Cloud computing was mostly theory. In the days of AIX 5.3, we only had LPARs, and PowerVM (just rebranded from Advanced Power Virtualization) was in its infancy. In today’s landscape, from a PM standpoint, there are many more decisions that need to be made, simply because of the innovation that IBM has brought to its Power systems and supported operating systems.

Let’s look at your applications. Where do we put them? Do you need dedicated LPARs, or can you put your environments (especially Test and DEV) on WPARs. Will your project be using some of the more recent innovations of PowerVM, such as Live Application Mobility, which allow you to move running WPAR instances between physical systems? Will you be using N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) to connect multiple partitions to one physical port of a physical Fibre Channel Adapter? With POWER8, is there any interest in in improving efficiencies with hardware accelerated virtual memory management and dynamic cloud optimization? Looking at AIX 7.2, it’s also important to look at the recent enhancements, which are focused on improving network efficiencies, improving application performance and reducing downtime in the data center by using AIX live update.

Linux

In 2013, IBM invested over $1 billion to enhance Linux and created the OpenPOWER foundation that enabled the open source community to build on their POWER8 boxes. IBM has also partnered with Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical’s Ubuntu to optimize applications on the POWER8. Ubuntu wasn’t part of the equation just a few years ago. So if you’re running Linux on Power, you’ll need to catch up with some of the new enhancements.

One small example is High Availability (HA). If you’re looking at HA technologies for Linux on Power, you’ll have to consider IBM’s Tivoli Systems Automation for Multiplatforms (Tivoli SA MP). Perhaps more importantly, if your project entails migrating applications from x86 to POWER8, understand that the Power architecture is now bi-endian. This level of support will now lower the barrier for those porting Linux on x86 to Linux on Power, as x86 is little endian, and Power has been traditionally big endian. I’m not going to get into a large technical discussion on endian—but this is where data management follows one or the other and is how data types are stored. POWER8 supports the mixing of big and little endian memory at the core level. If you’re migrating applications from x86 Linux to Linux on Power, it’s important to understand these concepts to keep your technical teams honest and to steer them towards making the right decisions as it relates to the Linux variant that your team may choose.

Cloud Computing

How does cloud computing affect your role as the PM? The short answer is that it creates much more to think about. Only a few years ago, companies running AIX on Power needed an on-premise solution, which could be managed by your staff or an outside vendor, such as IBM or an IBM Business Partner. Today, your entire infrastructure can be hosted outside of your company and managed by external resources. This article won’t get into the details of cloud computing; I’m just highlighting the increased complexity and the importance of making the right decisions from the beginning. As the PM, it’s even more likely that you may be involved in TCO studies—that is, trying to help management come up with a decision as to where the infrastructure should reside and how it should be managed. To that end, today’s PM needs to be that much stronger with budgeting and forecasting than ever before. The PM must also understand the options that are available for housing the infrastructure.

Cloud computing can also simplify tasks such as patching your servers and ensuring that technology levels are up-to-date on the servers that you’re migrating. The complexity level on patching has also increased. Consider the options: Now we have AIX Live update, which allows fixes, service packs and technology levels to be applied without rebooting. Your staff may not be aware of the newer technologies, so as an infrastructure PM, you may need to ask questions that relate to how the servers are going to be patched or updated. You should also make sure the appropriate tasks are documented in your project work schedule, depending upon how your team will be performing their tasks. It should also be noted that AIX live update also allows for non-disruptive kernel updates.

Ken Milberg, CATE, PMP, is a diverse IT Professional with 20+ years of experience. Ken is a technology writer and site expert for techtarget and has also been a frequent contributor of content for IBM developerWorks. Ken has also been a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine and is a former technical editor. He can be reached at kmilberg@powertco.com.



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