FC adapter-based WPAR creation and Oracle database configuration

Advances in IBM AIX WPAR technology

Workload Partitions (WPAR) is a licensed program product included with IBM® AIX® 6.1 and later versions. This article explains the concepts and configurations of a WPAR with Fibre Channel (FC) exported. Also, it describes the steps to install and configure both Oracle database and Oracle Automated Stress Test (OAST) workload inside the WPAR.


Sougata Sarkar (sougsark@in.ibm.com), System Software Engineer, IBM

sougataSougata Sarkar is System Software Engineer working with AIX UPT release team, Bangalore. His areas of expertise include oracle,WAS,Hibernation and WPARs.

Sangeeth Keeriyadath (k.sangeeth@in.ibm.com), Staff Software Engineer, IBM

sangeethSangeeth Keeriyadath is a Staff Software Engineer, working with AIX development team in Bangalore, India. Apart from his expertise in AIX Workload Partitions, his technical interests include scripting and developing web based applications.

Rajesh Kumar (rkumar11@in.ibm.com), System Software Engineer, IBM

rajeshRajesh Kumar is a Staff Software Engineer, working for the AIX release to release performance team at IBM India Systems and Technology Lab. He has worked in IBM for the past five years. His current activities include analyzing AIX performance for NFS file systems. His areas of expertise comprise File systems, NFS and Oracle Database.

12 September 2012

Also available in Chinese


WPARs are an enhanced capability of the AIX operating system, where users can create virtualized and isolated environments within an AIX installation. Multiple WPARs can be created in a single AIX operating system instance. Physical resources of a single logical partition (LPAR) can be shared amongst multiple WPARs, along with the option to control resource (such as processor, memory, and so on) usage.

For storage purpose, previously only individual endpoint devices (such as disks and tapes) were supported in a WPAR. With WPAR Manager 2.3 and AIX 7.1 onwards, support has been extended to allocate a FC storage adapter, controlling a pool of storage devices to a WPAR.

WPARs have been certified for customers running Oracle Database 11gR2 on IBM Power Systems™ starting with AIX 6.1. This announcement from the IBM Oracle International Competency Center (ICC) helps enterprises running on Oracle database in a single instance mode to benefit from the features of AIX WPAR. For more details refer to Resources.

Details of the FC adapter support for WPARs

Key highlights of the FC adapter support for WPARs:

  • Storage adapter support requires LPARs to be at AIX 7.1 or later. Also, WPAR Manager must be of version 2.3 or later.
  • Adapters need to be allocated when creating a new WPAR. You can also add it to an existing WPAR, and you need to run the cfgmgr command inside the WPAR to view the configuration changes.
  • Storage adapters support for WPARs supports Multiple Path I/O (MPIO).
  • Both virtual and physical FC adapters can be exported to WPARs.

Restrictions :

  • FC adapter and storage device support is only for system WPARs.
  • Storage adapters cannot be exported if the same are in use by the global AIX.
  • Storage adapters are not supported for export to versioned WPARs.
  • Allocating both, storage adapters and individual storage devices simultaneously to a WPAR is not supported.
  • Presently, WPAR mobility is not supported with FC storage adapters.

Benefits of installing Oracle database inside WPARs

  1. Installation of Oracle database inside separate WPARs allows the user to run different application in each of them. Also, creating multiple WPARs enable different versions of Oracle database to co-exist in the same Global AIX. This kind of setup is mostly useful for customers in test environment.
  2. With FC storage adapter support being extended to WPAR, Oracle database can benefit from it by getting all its storage requirements from a single adapter. Multiple disks need not be explicitly exported from the global AIX.
  3. By exporting a FC storage adapter to a WPAR, the WPAR automatically owns and manages the storage devices attached. Thus, WPAR has an exclusive control of the adapter and all the adapter-attached storage devices without the intervention of the global AIX.

WPAR setup details using IBM Systems Director

This section highlights the steps needed to create a FC adapter exported system WPAR. In this example setup, one of the FC adapters assigned to the global LPAR is assigned to a WPAR during its creation.

Listing 1. List of adapters assigned to the global AIX (LPAR)
# lsdev -Cc adapter

 ent0   Available             Virtual I/O Ethernet Adapter (l-lan)
 fcs0   Available  C3-T1  Virtual Fibre Channel Client Adapter
 fcs1   Available  C4-T1  Virtual Fibre Channel Client Adapter
 fcs2   Available  C5-T1  Virtual Fibre Channel Client Adapter
 fcs3   Available  C6-T1  Virtual Fibre Channel Client Adapter
 vsa0  Available             LPAR Virtual Serial Adapter

From the list of FC adapters, fcs2 will be assigned to the WPAR during its creation.

Listing 2. List of disks owned by the FC adapter, fcs2
# lsdev -p fcs2

fscsi2 Defined C5-T1-01 FC SCSI I/O Controller Protocol Device

# lsdev -p fscsi2
hdisk17       Defined C6-T1-01        MPIO 2810 XIV Disk
hdisk18       Defined C6-T1-01        MPIO 2810 XIV Disk
hdisk19       Defined C6-T1-01        MPIO 2810 XIV Disk
sfwcomm3  Defined C6-T1-01-FF   Fibre Channel Storage Framework Comm

The above listing shows that fsc2 is parent to fscsi2, which in turn is parent to the disks hdisk17, hdisk18 and hdisk19. On creation of a WPAR with fcs2 assigned, it will automatically own all the disks that fcs2 is parent of.

The WPAR Manager plugin of IBM Systems Director provides a very easy interface to create and manage WPARs. There are a sequence of setup steps required to work on WPARs through Systems Director.

  1. Using the WPAR Manager, the WPAR-capable systems must be discovered using the System Discovery option.
  2. To begin managing WPARs on the discovered systems, the WPAR Manager subagent must be installed on each system.
  3. User must then collect All Software Inventory and Extended WPAR Inventory on the managed systems to discover existing WPARs.
  4. Now, the Create Workload Partitions wizard in the WPAR Manger can be used to create WPARs on WPAR-capable systems.

Most of the steps to create a WPAR with FC adapter assigned would be the same as creating a system WPAR except the Device Control step. This is explained in the following screen captures.

Figure 1. The Device Control step in the creation of a WPAR using WPAR Manager
screenshot showing the 'Device Control' step in the creation of a WPAR

Figure 1 shows the Device Control step during the creation of a WPAR. This step is the place to reserve the required storage devices or adapters for use by the WPAR. For assigning storage adapters to the WPAR, as the first step, in the Adapters tab, the user has to click Add Adapters to get the list of adapters that the global system has.

Figure 2. Selecting the adapters to be assigned to the WPAR
screenshot showing the 'Add Adapters' dialog box to select adapters to be assigned to the WPAR

Figure 2 shows the Add Adapters dialog box that lists all the adapters available to the global system. This dialog box lists the same adapters that was seen using the command mentioned in Listing 1. You can view the devices attached to the selected adapter by clicking Actions --> Adapter Devices or by clicking the name of the adapter. The required adapters can be exported by making a selection in the appropriate check boxes listed along with the adapters. After the required adapter selections are made, click OK to go back to the Device Control tab to finalize the selection.

Figure 3. The Device Control page after selecting the adapter
screenshot showing the 'Device Control' screen after adapter selection is made

Figure 3 lists the storage adapters and adapter-based storage devices on the global system that are currently selected to be exported to the WPAR. You can click Add Adapters to export the new adapters and the adapter-based devices. This is also the place for selecting the disks to be used as the root volume group (rootvg), if required. In this example, hdisk17 is selected to be used as the rootvg.

Figure 4. A summary of the settings selected for WPAR creation
screenshot showing the 'summary' of the settings selected for WPAR creation

Figure 4 lists all the selections made and the values provided for the creation of the new WPAR. Before beginning the creation, this is the last step to confirm whether all the information provided is proper, and if required, go back and change any values. The user needs to click Finish to create a WPAR with the given settings.

Listing 3. Options available to the mkwpar command for assigning a storage device
mkwpar -n <wpar name> -D devname=<device name> [devtype=adapter/disk/tape/cdrom]
Listing 4. Sample mkwpar command to create the WPAR with the FC adapter assigned and to use one disk under the adapter as rootvg
mkwpar -n thick03cor04 -D devname=fcs2 -D devname=hdisk17 rootvg=yes

Installation and configuration of Oracle database inside the WPAR

Before installing the Oracle database, the following prerequisites must be fulfilled:

  • A new oracle user must be created inside the WPAR.
  • The size of the /tmp file system should be increased to a minimum of 2 GB.
  • A separate file system must be created to place the Oracle binaries and for Oracle workload configuration. This new file system must be assigned proper permissions for the oracle user.
  • Virtual Network Computing (VNC) server needs to be installed to get the graphical user interface (GUI) on the remote computer during Oracle installation and workload configuration.

The steps to install the Oracle database software inside the WPAR are similar to that of inside a global AIX and can be done by running the runInstaller' command from the directory containing the Oracle binaries. After successful installation, a listener needs to be created by running the netca command and a database needs to be configured using the dbca command. Both these binaries are located in $ORACLE_HOME/bin.

On running runInstaller, on the first page, the user must provide the user ID. On the next page, the user must select the Install database software only option. Then the user has to specify the database installation type as Single instance database installation. On the subsequent page, Database Edition should be selected as Enterprise Edition followed by providing the path to the file system created for the Oracle software. On the last page, the inventory directory needs to be selected before clicking Finish.

While installation is in progress, the installer will prompt the user with a path to the script, which must be run manually inside the WPAR to finish the installation process.

OAST workload configuration details inside the WPAR

The OAST workload is developed by Oracle to test Oracle on a system by simulating a real-world environment. In this setup, OAST is configured on top of Oracle database.

The OAST readme file will guide the user on how to configure it. There are four basic steps to be followed:

  1. OAST needs to be installed in the single instance database mode.
  2. After the install is complete, kitcompile needs to be run.
  3. A database must be created after running the kitcompile command.
  4. The tests must be run for a minimum of 24 hours to get good results.

Tips for OAST workload :

  • Before starting a new run for a long duration, the user needs to check for 30 minutes and see if the required performance metrics are achieved. Otherwise, different values for the options should be tried.
  • User can provide different values for the -w option to chose different workloads depending upon their test scenario.
  • It is also a good idea to clean up the old Oracle alert log files before starting a new run. Users can change the memory_target and memory_max_target values as per the requirement.
  • If the processor utilization is not met as expected, an increase in the number of users might help.


In this article, we introduced the creation of FC adapter exported WPARs using IBM Systems Director and listed its advantages. We provided a brief explanation of the steps required to install Oracle database on the same WPAR setup. Also, we explained how to configure and run the sample workload OAST on this setup.



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