I may have written about these in previous blogs but these have been updated and added too them. They are in my regular Systems Director presentation but I thought they should be shared to a wider audience - no sense is sitting on good information. These are very much my thoughts and opinions for POWER and mostly AIX systems. These are not official IBM statements.
1) Quick Introduction. If you want a 12 minute look at how Systems Director can benefit Power and AIX system administrators in eight ways then watch my 12 minute movie. After creating this movie I thought I should have included Topology views and Remote access too.
- The 100+ Power and AIX movies are at http://tinyurl.com/AIXmovies
- Look for "Systems Director 6.2 Saving My Time" - 6.3 has all the same features and Inventory is drastically improved too
- Or Directly http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/WikiPtype/Movies#Movies-Dir6savetime
Topics in the movie:
- One Hour Install
- Update Manager for AIX, HMC, VIOS etc
- Whole Machine Performance View
- LPAR direct operations
- Active Energy Manager (very easy)
- VMControl Image Manager (advanced)
- Workload Partitions (with WPAR relocation)
- Automation Plans - core System Management function
- Old Systems Management humour: Anything can happen in the computer room once, if it happens it is a trend and it needs to be stopped. This is done by systems Director monitoring, setting threshold, capturing events and correcting the issue with an automatic script and/or escalating via Text message or email.
2) Sizing your Systems Director Server with the IBM Workload Estimator (WLE). This has been updated for Systems Director 6.3 and available from the Systems Director manual pages.
- The new Workload Estimator for Systems Director can be found at http://tinyurl.com/SDwle63
- Below is the sequence of using this simple but powerful tool - just takes a minute or two:
- Select Power, local disks and is AEM going to be used (it collects historic electricity use, GHz and heat output data).
- Add the number of boxes, the LPARs and the number of Systems Director concurrent users?
- Decide the storage details for the server and database
- Then see the resulting resources and example configurations
Note: this is using a fraction (31%) of a small 4 CPU POWER7 Server - you can use roughly the same resources in an existing machine for the Systems Director server VM.
3) Performance Tuning & Scaling Guide Whitepaper for Systems Director - this has 50 pages aimed at Systems Director running around 1000 Operating Systems as Endpoints. It covers what is important to get it running well and many good tuning tips.
- Find this interesting for performance people document at http://tinyurl.com/SDperformance
4) Pre-Req checking. Check those pre-requisites to make sure your hardware combination will work. This is particularly necessary for VMControl which to create an Virtual Machine for an Appliance needs to allocate Disk space and SAN Zones and perhaps a Network. This requires Systems Director to have the Disks, SAN and network details and to actually have the control to allocate resources.
- Find the Full list of what is supported and the tools, software and versions required http://tinyurl.com/SDdisks
- The below is an eye test and the page is very detailed
- Please be careful if you need to use SMI-S to connect disk systems and pre-test this before assuming in works. I have had no luck with the SMI-S on AIX but others report SMI-S on Windows 2008 works better.
5) Leap Frog
issues. It is a feature of all Systems Management tools that they don't work with "bleeding edge" versions of operating systems. Systems Director will wait until say the newest version of AIX is Generally Available (GA) before testing in with Systems Director and the officially state support in the following Systems Director version which may be, for example, 6 months later and once it has been tested and any problems sorted out. This also allows the release of a service pack to AIX to fix bugs. If you want or must to use the newest AIX version during this period you may get lucky!! If not there may be some problem in AIX that needs fixing. If there is a fix or work around then you can raise a Support Call which may or may not help as the version is not officially supported. I recommend you use Twitter to keep in touch and get warnings and fixes pointed out to you. This is exactly what happened when a new AIX broke VMControl but there was a quick and easy update to workaround the problem. To good people to follow are:
- mr_nmon - that is me!
- NicoletteMcF - a well known key tweeter of POWER and AIX news and updates
Of course, a lot of production machines would never consider using the very latest version of an OS, VIOS or HMC but wait 6 months or until at least a service pack or two are available to avoid leading edge issues. In this case, you may never see this leap frog issue for production virtual machines.
6) Solutions Assurance - IBM has solution check lists for all our larger systems that are a useful question list to make sure all aspects of complex systems are thought about and to give projects a much better chance of success and nothing is forgotten in the early stages. There is a check list for Systems Director Solutions Assurance. These Solution Assurance documents are for IBM and IBM Business Partner use only but if you are a customer you can ask you IBM representative for go through the check list with you. I just noted this has been updated for Systems Director 6.3 in version 1.2. There are about 70 simple questions. These can be hard to local so for IBMers and BPers here is what you need to find:
- For Business Partners look for document SA924 at http://partners.boulder.ibm.com/src/assur30i.nsf/Web/SA
- For IBMers go to http://w3-03.ibm.com/support/assure/assur30i.nsf/WebIndex/SA924
The most important section is BACKUP and do this from day 1 ... not just after the first major problem!
7) Continual Improvement
: Systems Director 6 has been around for a number of years now and it improving every year. From my records and my comments primarily for POWER and AIX users:
- May 2008 first Beta version
- Nov 2008 6.1 Generally Available
- May 2009 - Fix pack 6.1.1 + WPAR Manager
- Nov 2009 - Fix pack 6.1.2 + VMControl
- May 2010 6.2
- This was the first version I was comfortable demonstrating live at conferences including Active Energy Manager and Workload Partition Manager
- Nov 2010 - Update 6.2.1 + service pack
- Speed up + New Plug-in Storage Control for managing SAN disks
- May 2011 – Small Fix pack
- Dec 2011 – ISD 6.3 “the big one”
My list of the new features of Systems Director 6.3 for Power and AIX
- there other new features but these are the ones that interested me most.
- Simplified Usability from watching users and making it simpler to use
- Trial periods 60 changed to 90 days
- Improved scalability & performance
- Better Inventory with useful information 1st
- Default RDBMS is now embedded DB2 (instead of Apache Derby) - you don't need to deal with DB2 itself
- Oracle RDBMS, DB2 as an external database and SQL-Server are still available
New Base Systems Director install includes 3 plug-ins (for POWER AEM, VMControl) activate when ready to start the Trial
- ISD 6.2 can migrate from Derby to embedded DB2
Easier resource monitoring, threshold + action plan configurationAEM Power Saving on individual Dedicated CPUs LPAR as well as machine level and POWER7 over-clocking
- WPAR Manager and the AIX Profile Manager for performance and security settings) are also available now
VMControl enhancements: NPIV (if TPC or Storage Control), more than 1 disk in Capture & Deploy, Clone IBM i & Red Hat 6 with KVM on x86 (already can do Linux on Power) via Storage Copy Services (requires full SAN control)You should check with your local IBM rep but I did not see any price changes or differences to the Systems Director Editions content
8) Platform Focus - Systems Director is concerned with the endpoints which are on POWER are HMC, POWER machines, Service Processors, Virtual I/O Servers and the Operating Systems - AIX, PowerLinux and IBM i. It can also update device drivers on AIX. But it also does not re-invent the wheel:
- If you want to Update AIX - it will use a Network Installation Server (NIM)
- If you want to Dynamically change a virtual machine (LPAR) CPU, memory or adapter slots or Live Partition Mobility - it will use your HMC to do that
- If it need to create a virtual network or virtual disk - it will get your VIOS to do this setup
- If you what to change the size of an AIX filesystem - it will use the Common Agent to start a pConsole on AIX
- If you want to control the Energy use or monitor it - it uses the HMC to set/get information from the service processor.
Also worth noting Systems Director does not do some things
normally considered "systems Management" functions:
- Backup - every one has there backups sorted out and would be unlikely to change or use ISD
- Application Roll out - Updates only for the OS, system firmware, HMC and OS device drivers
- Application User Control - i.e. which user has which permissions inside the application
- Usage & Accounting - was in the first release of ISD but the use was so small it was removed
- Printing - again most people have this sorted out with specific tools and would not change
- Problem Tracking - ISD will raise alerts but not assign them to people or track them through to resolution
IBM has other independent products that cover each of these or they can be combined with Systems Director and the Tivoli Framework.
9) You can't cheat on the minimum supported levels but four years on and lots of endpoints have the Common Agent by default now. When Systems Director started out one large problem was it needed users to install the Common Agent on most Endpoints and this was a) a lot of work and b) needed testing to make sure it did not effect stability. This made many reluctant to get started. However, starting now is a lot easier and most Endpoints in the past two years already have a working Common Agent installed. You should check the documentation but from my notes the following are Systems Director ready (they may need a the Common Agent updated but they will work OK and let you use Systems Director to do the update), Installing the Common Agent on AIX is fairly easy but it you have 100's of AIX images it will take time:
- HMC 7.3.4+
- VIOS 2.1.2+
- No support for AIX 5.3 TL06 or earlier
- AIX 5.3 TL07 to TL12 - you will have to install the Common Agent and you might as well start with the latest version
- AIX 6.1 TL03 to the latest TL07 - Has the Common Agent, older ones may need upgrading with Systems Director or installing a new Technology Level or service pack will also upgrade the Common Agent
- NIM Server = AIX 7.1 TL - this always needs to be the latest AIX level (the latest in time not the number i.e. AIX 6 TL7 is later than AIX 7 TL0)
Note: is you have an AIX images that was installed a long time ago and upgrades since then these upgrades only effect installed software. If the Common Agent was never installed then it would not be installed as part of the upgrade. The Common Agent will be on the AIX install media and you can install from there.
10) Licence Control: Systems Director is installed on a server - for POWER that makes sense to be a Logical Partition or in Systems Director speak a Virtual server although I prefer Virtual Machines to fit in with PowerVM. The Systems Director Plug-ins are installed on that same server once. There are a few exceptions for example:
- The VMControl Standard Edition (also called Image Manager) also requires a VMControl Image Agent on the NIM server controlled by Systems Director
- The Workload Partition Manager also requires WPAR Agent on each Global AIX that is running Workload Partitions (WPARs).
Systems Director for Power requires licence and software maintenance for all the CPU cores for any machine running the Common Agent and connected to the Systems Director server. Yes, for all the machines being controlled.
At the moment, although Systems Director knows exactly the machines, numbers of cores and plug-ins in use, it does not list the current required licences for Systems Director nor the plug-ins. Licensing and payment is currently based on trust but that could easily change as all the information is in the Systems Director database. There is a prize for the first person that can share a way of listing the machines, CPU cores and plug-ins that require licences. Systems Director has a command line reporting tools and commands that make this possible but I can never seem to find the time to work it out.
Well I hope this has been useful. It is all my opinion but please comment if you think I have something wrong.
Thanks, Nigel Griffiths, Power Systems Advanced Technical Support, IBM Europe & mr_nmon on Twitter