The new VIOS Shared Storage Pools 3 (SSP3) arrived a month ago and I have all my VIOS updated now to VIOS 126.96.36.199 plus fixes. This brings with it the regular VIOS improvements but also new features for SSP3 including:
- Better pool use stats for example see the below lssp command and the Used percentage and Unused(mb) columns and the over view output too has new data
$ lssp -clustername stars -sp atlantic -bd
Lu Name Size(mb) ProvisionType %Used Unused(mb) Lu Udid
orange7a 32768 THIN 9% 29615 7d58538152 …
orange7b 32768 THIN 0% 32770 76136907aa …
$ lssp -clustername stars
- A new alert to warn about going over board with your over-commit of Thin Provisioning from the disk pool.
- Increase RAS as you would expect
- You can use a dedicated network for the VIOS that make up the new 16 way VIOS cluster
- Actually this is not documented as it is normal networking - just connect the VIOS together on a "private" network and assign the route between VIOS hostnames to that particular network and it will just work. I like this as a great way to protect your SSP3 against a general network overload.
- Then there is the big one the integration of SSP3 with Systems Director so VMControl can automate the creation of IBM i, Linux on Power and AIX virtual machines (VM) using SSP3 disk and then the bonus it uses Linked Clones so they share the same disk pages. If an Operating System writes to a page it is then copied to make it unique. the "pages" are the SSP pages of 64MB in size.
I am starting to see some of my larger customers giving this ago but asking basic "getting started" questions about what they need so I thought I would answer a few questions in this blog in an effort to reduce my work :-) and decrease the frustration when IBM does not make this exciting new features very clear. Once I have this running myself I will blog more and make a movie or two. The below is based on numerous talks with the SSP and ISD developers and them listening to me talk about these features and giving me feedback.
- VIOS 188.8.131.52 plus mandatory fixes this includes the SSP software
- IBM Systems Director 6.3.2 with matching VMControl
- As the VIOS has the SSP3 SAN disks online, any disks supported by the VIOS will work fine with SSP and you don't need TPC, SVC or Storage Control (they do no harm if you have them but they are not involved)
- The VMControl Activation Engine for cloning - comes with System Director
- A few TB of SAN LUN disk space, Zoned and online to all the VIOS of the cluster
- I am assuming you have created your SSP3 cluster and added all the VIOS to it - same process as SSP2. Although there is now a GUI for this I think I will be sticking with eht VIOS command line - I like to immediate see error messages or that it is a success. For my cluster, as an example it is very easy:
cluster -create -clustername galaxy -repopvs hdisk2 -spname atlantic -sppvs hdisk3 hdisk5 -hostname bluevios1.ibm.com
then add the other VIOS's (one command per VIOS), as below
cluster -addnode -clustername galaxy –hostname redvios1.ibm.com
Everything I know is on this diagram:
So let us step through the details in order:
- Install and setup IBM Systems Director and activate the VMControl, which is automatically installed with the base now. This is business as normal.
- Take control of the Hardware Management Console(s) with the regular Discovery of the HMC's, grant access and run Inventory. This is business as normal.
- The VIOS has the Systems Director Common Agent already installs and as it is VIOS 184.108.40.206 it is up to date. But you need to install the VMControl Agent and the new for this release SSP Agent that understands how to interact with an SSP and control it. Now Discover the all the VIOS's that make up the SSP, grant access and run Inventory. Systems Director will now know about this SSP as a new storage pool option - it already understands other pools like SAN disk sub-systems and local disks on the VIOS as a pool.
- You will need a "master image" which you want to use multiple times in client virtual machines. So create that VM (LPAR) on a SSP disk and pure virtual = no adapters or direct devices. Install any software that you regularly need like security, backup performance monitoring etc. and even applicaitons like for example your webserver, databases or what ever. You will be making a seto of such applicanced for different application needs. Once done, get this master image controlled by Systems Director with Discover, grant access and Inventory.
- To allow this operating system with added software to be saved, we have to make sure that when a copy is started up for the first time that certain features are changed like the hostname, IP address, security certificates etc so they are unique and not the same as the original master copy. We do this using the Activation Engine software. This was introduced some time ago when Systems Director started using Storage Copy Services (SCS) way of creating appliances and deploying them and in particular for Linux on POWER and IBM i. AIX can use this too but it also have the slower NIM method from early ISd releases. Once and Activation Engine installed and a special commend run, the master OS is shutdown ready for a copy to be made. Stopping it means no crash recovery is needed and the disks will be in a consistent state.
- Now we use the VMControl feature to create an appliance - as VMControl understands SSP3 it can just use the SSP3 features to do this under the covers. I think it takes a complete copy of the original at this point ready for cloning. In the SSP3 the LUs are created and the disk blocks copied. VMControl also takes all the other details to recreate the master like CPU Entitlement, VP, memory size and virtual network.
- Now we are ready to deploy a clone of the saved appliance and this is where the clever stuff happens. We use VMControl as we have in the past to deploy the captured appliance but instead of a completely new set of disk blocks it created a sort of snapshot clone of the master set. So no copy is actually made. This makes it very quick - we are talking seconds here.
- VMControl also needs the rest of the VM to be setup so it allocated the LPAR on the HMC, assigned CPU and memory then adds the virtual network and the SSP3 LU disks.
- VMControl starts the new VM. On it first starting up the Activation Engine kicks-in and set the new hostname, IP address etc so we have an independent VM sharing the disk space blocks with the copy in the VMControl appliance image repository - of course, our new clone will immediately save the hostname and IP address to disk but only SSP3 blocks that are written too will be unique to the clone.
My Virtual I/O Servers are ready so I am off now to upgrade my Systems Director and give it a go. I will report back once its all running - it is a shame that Xmas will now get in the way of all this fun :-)
If you have running why not drop me a line via the comments.