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AIX Software Stack Enhances Cloud Capabilities

AIX Software Stack


The IBM AIX* OS now offers improved security, higher availability, cluster managing capabilities, and the flexibility to move across cloud platforms.

IBM PowerHA* SystemMirror* for AIX, the IBM Power Systems* strategic high availability (HA) solution for mission-critical environments, has gotten an update with V7.2.2.

“With each release of PowerHA for AIX, we add capabilities designed to both enhance the product capability as well as to simplify IT operations,” says Steven Finnes, high availability offering manager for Power Systems. “PowerHA 7.2.2 is no exception. We have added more value through features such as the capability to manage your clusters from the UI/dashboard, and we haven’t changed the price. That is real value.”

Ian Robinson, virtualization offering manager for Power Systems Product Management, agrees. “You can catch up with the latest capabilities with this high-end AIX enterprise edition that includes more virtualization as part of the complete stack,” he says “Components are more compelling than ever, and deployment is fast and easy.”

The new AIX EE version also provides enhanced security and helps clients with compliance, says Petra Bührer, offering manager for Power Systems Software. “Security is increasingly important, which is why we’re investing in our AIX install base,” she says. “We’re offering several security-related capabilities to support clients and help them meet security and compliance regulations. These capabilities also help them meet federal mandates, accelerate security audit preparation, and detect and prevent security issues while raising the assurance level of their Power Systems Software stack.” To learn more, visit bit.ly/2m1Hzze.

Simplifying Virtual Machine Deployment

The AIX OS is regularly improved and updated, Bührer says. With the latest version release in October 2017, AIX capitalizes on the trends of moving workloads across private, public or hybrid clouds as business needs change, which ensures data is constantly available and secure.

“We have a lot of new capabilities within our Power Systems Software portfolio like PowerVC* for cloud management, PowerSC* for security and PowerHA for high availability. All of these contain major improvements,” Bührer says. “It’s really unique how many capabilities we announced, not only from a quantity perspective but also from a quality perspective.”

For example, the import/export capabilities within PowerVC enable hybrid clouds and smooth transitions between multicloud environments, in addition to the ability to spin up a SANless cloud with its software-defined capabilities.

“Simplified security and compliance management, compelling malware and intrusion prevention with PowerSC, as well as integrating with PowerVC in order to secure clouds right from the beginning are now available with PowerSC 1.1.6,” Bührer says. The PowerHA V7.2.2 UI enables you to not only see the health of your clusters with a single glance, but now you can also manage your clusters. This includes stopping or starting a cluster, moving resources or providing zoning on a multitenant cloud.

From Monitoring to Managing

PowerHA 7.2.1, which was announced in October 2016, allowed clients to monitor the status of a cluster or groups of clusters from a single view through a GUI. This simplified the process of determining the health and status of the clusters. Now, clients can manage the clusters from this same UI.

With this release, it’s possible to add a cluster to a zone, assign users to it and give those users specific role-based access authority. It’s an efficient, secure way to set up and manage the environment, according to Finnes. “And we have added many more abilities as well. You can, for example, stop all cluster services. You can remove a cluster. You can stop a cluster service on a node or move a resource group, all from the UI. You might have multiple clusters, and you might have multiple zones. You can zero in on them, set them up in specific ways, and then perform management functions on them. Prior to this, everything had to be done manually using a command-line interface or System Management Interface Tool panels,” he says.

Making cluster management easier allows organizations to better allocate their personnel. Junior staffers can handle more of the administrative work with clusters because the command-line interface work is no longer required.

“You save time with management and you’re also reducing the chance of human error,” Finnes says. “You have a single window into the world of your clusters. Operations are intuitively easier. This is going to release a certain amount of human resources and also minimize the dependency on people to identify and act on issues. Even for a two-node cluster, it’s going to be a time saver.”

Organizations can assign different levels of access to the clusters for individual employees. Some employees may be able to only monitor them, while others can make changes. “Consider a cloud provider hosting banking operations for multiple banks,” he says. “With this UI capability, they will be able set up individual zones for each client complete with secure access on shared hardware resources. In addition, they will be able to efficiently monitor and more easily manage these clusters to maintain service-level agreements.”

Finding and using the information clients need from error logs is also easier. “With PowerHA 7.2.2, clients now have a log analytics tool. Data can be pulled in from all the cluster nodes, AIX log, syslog and PowerHA log. The tool will do a correlation and analysis, produce a report and make a recommended fix for the problem. For instance, a recommended action might be to replace a specific disk unit,” he adds.

Freedom to Move Across Clouds

Clients can deploy workload images on their hardware of choice or take advantage of the cloud. “What’s exciting is we’re seeing an emergence of cloud providers that will host more solutions, making it easy to move AIX between public and private clouds,” Robinson says. “This unlocks a lot of exciting use cases. A multiple cloud approach is trending because no one single cloud provider gives organizations everything they need. Now they can roll out a project on the cloud that makes the most sense.”

Robinson points to the IBM Cloud for Skytap Solutions (ICSS) as being particularly beneficial. “Most clouds have a back-end infrastructure that is limited to x86 workloads. Skytap is one of the first cloud providers to offer ‘virtual data center’ infrastructure that allows deployment and management of both IBM Power* and x86 workloads,” he says. “That’s key to using AIX stacks in the cloud. This opens up opportunities to deliver innovative new workloads and business cases.”

“The bottom line is that AIX on Power Systems is the ultimate platform for running private clouds with security and high availability in a simple way.”
—Petra Bührer, offering manager for Power Systems Software

For example, if a client has a project using AIX behind a firewall, it’s typically well-secured and tightly controlled, Robinson says. “Now the cloud allows developers to experiment and share without putting internal AIX systems at risk. This allows clients to experiment, like in a sandbox, and it’s great for an agile ‘fail faster’ DevOps approach. Developers can experiment and innovate in the cloud with unlimited virtualized resources.”

Using V7.2.2 with ICSS delivers new benefits. Organizations can quickly scale up to evolve new projects in the cloud, then if desired, move them on-premises. Likewise, companies have the flexibility to keep copies, or clones, of on-premises projects in the cloud, as backups for disaster-recovery purposes.

“Now clients can manage and bridge to modern data platforms,” Bührer says. “If you have an image that’s configured, you are able to export it and take it wherever you want—in a different data center, a client’s cloud environment, or even a different cloud provider if you want to migrate to the cloud and deploy applications there.”

This approach also allows organizations to store their data in the location that makes the most sense, she says. “You can have your crown jewels running in your private data center, but you could also leverage third-party cloud providers for the ‘less best’ data. Or if you want to try something out for experimenting, you have options.”

More Features, Better Price Performance

Now’s the time to have a deeper look at the AIX stack, Bührer says. New configurations like the IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager for Software Defined Infrastructure enable new deployment user experiences. They also offer a better price performance while delivering a variety of enhanced capabilities and integration with a client’s enterprise stack.

“The bottom line is that AIX on Power Systems is the ultimate platform for running private clouds with security and high availability in a simple way,” Bührer says. “The ongoing theme is that we are enabling clients to become future ready, allowing them to bridge to modern data platforms like management capabilities for kernel-based virtual machine systems and Database as a Service capabilities integrated in PowerVC. We are also opening up multicloud environments with solutions like ICSS, IBM Cloud Private, and the capabilities PowerVC provides.”

Brett Martin is a freelance writer based in Shakopee, Minnesota. He’s been writing about business and technology for more than a decade.


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