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'Driving the Power of AIX'

July 14, 2009

I've known Ken Milberg for about three years. You may know him from the numerous articles he's authored for IBM Systems Magazine. Ken is the president of PowerTCO, a New York-based IBM business partner. He's also the founder and leader of the NY Metro Power AIX/Linux User Group. (link not active)


In a recent promotional e-mail for his user group, Ken mentioned his book, "Driving the Power of AIX." If you've read this blog for any length of time, you should know that I'm keenly interested in AIX performance. It's critical for administrators to understand this area, yet it can be challenging to master. Some admins don't understand basic performance concepts, while others fail to grasp important details.

It's funny -- some of the problem stems from the excellent products we use. Our machines run great most of the time, which is wonderful. As a result though, it's easy to get out of practice when it comes to diagnosing machines that are behaving badly. Plus, it's easy to call IBM Support. These experts deal with misbehaving systems day in and day out, so they can often uncover problems more quickly than we do. It's an awfully tempting crutch to use.

But back to the book. Ken sent me a self-published copy. This version -- while not identical to the one that MC Press is releasing later this year -- gives me a good feel for what's coming.
Just scanning the table of contents, I can see the interesting topics that Ken will cover in the book, including his tuning methodology and philosophy, tuning the CPU, memory, disk I/O and network
performance. The closing sections are specifically devoted to tuning Oracle and Linux on Power machines. In spelling out the differences between tuning AIX 5 and AIX 6 systems, he notes that the AIX 6 defaults are much more reasonable for the typical AIX workload compared to earlier releases.

Whether Ken's discussing the AIX Virtual Memory Manager, persistent and working memory, why cio is a good choice for your file system mount option or why he prefers nmon to topas, he makes it understandable to readers. Each chapter concludes with a quiz and a summary section so you can digest what you've just read. Don't skip over the chapter summaries -- I found several valuable tidbits in there. I also enjoyed his anecdotes throughout the text. Clearly, Ken's been in the trenches tuning real-world production machines.

Useful command names and options are listed throughout the book, though I would like to have seen  Ken offer even more examples of how these commands are used. Nevertheless, the version of the book that I read is a useful addition to my library, and I plan on getting Ken's new edition when it's released.

Incidentally, if you're going to be in New York City on Aug. 6, you may want to drop by the NY Metro Power AIX/Linux User Group meeting. Ken's doing a technical presentation based on his upcoming book, and he'll distribute free copies. It's part of an IBM technology book fair hosted by MC Press.


And if you can't get to the meeting, check out a local user group, or a virtual one. As I've said before, user groups are a valuable resource for IT professionals.

Posted July 14, 2009| Permalink

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