An IBM i System Administrator’s PureFlex System Experience

I’ve had some unique experiences during my nearly 25-year career as an IBM i administrator. The most recent was the introduction of IBM’s PureFlex technology. I’m an experienced AS/400, iSeries, i5/OS and IBM i administrator and have been working with IBM i in some capacity since 1988. I’ve worked with several teams at IBM and have been involved with many announcements over the years, but this latest system is unlike anything I’ve seen. One might even say it’s like everything I’ve seen over the years, only combined.

Exploring PureSystems

If you haven’t heard by now, the PureFlex system combines all of the elements of a data center in one box including the storage-area network (SAN), Windows, AIX, Linux and IBM i virtual machines. Also included are the Fiber and Ethernet switches as well as the Flex System Manager to tie it all together. As a long-time i administrator, only one of these pieces came naturally to me, however I was pleased with the ease of its setup.

The first thing I noticed is how compact this new platform is. The total rack space was surprisingly small for the large amount of performance provided. Setup was very straightforward and all of the pieces went right into place. I had an excellent team from IBM giving support and I’m confident other users will experience similar ease in setting things up.

The Learning Curve

There is a learning curve for current i administrators. For example, if you’re currently using internal storage, you’ll need to get up to speed on the SAN setup and configuration. If you’re not using the VIOS to assign resources to your partitions, or if you aren’t partitioning at all, you’ll need to learn about VIOS and partitioning. Also, if you don’t currently use virtual media for OS and PTF installs, you’ll want to do that going forward.

Another learning experience for me was the IBM Flex System Manager. The Flex System Manager has the look and feel of the IBM Systems Director, so if you’re thinking about PureFlex technology and aren’t using the current IBM Systems Director, you should start using it today. This will help speed up the learning process. Even if a PureFlex System isn’t in your immediate future, you should consider using IBM Systems Director soon.

While thinking about the VIOS and the Flex System Manager, it’s important to remember they are both built on an open system OS. As such, it’s important to be up to speed on some of the AIX and Linux terminology, and have the feel for some of the command line interface (CLI) commands and structure. Using products like Putty and Filezilla may be daily experiences for some AIX administrators, but these were not part of my usual bag of tools.

Amazing Hardware

Overall, the new PureFlex System is an amazing piece of hardware. I’ve only scratched the surface of its capabilities, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the platform grows.

Joel Fredrickson is an IBM i administrator at Vision Solutions. He's been working with IBM i and its predecessors since 1988.

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