Taking VM to extremes

Let's be bold: IBM's VM (Virtual Machine) is quite possibly the most flexible and scalable operating system ever built. And this week we'd like to zero inon VM's ability to partition one of Big Blue's S/390 or zSeries servers into virtual machines. Essentially a simulated computer, a virtual machine has its own designated processor, memory, and I/O and can host a variety of other operating systems within the main server, including OS/390, VM itself, and Linux.

The combination of VM and multiple Linux servers is heaven for an administrator because VM dynamically allocates processing and memory to each virtualmachine -- be it a Web server or a database engine -- from the mammoth resource reservoir of the mainframe. VM also allows for internal, virtual Linux clustering, which can dramatically improve performance and can deliver increased reliability through internal fail-over.

Drawbacks of the Linux-VM approach? Well, first off, you're working with a mainframe computer. Although IBM has taken some of the sting out of mainframemaintenance, users still need to set aside a significant block of time to prepare each virtual Linux machine and to allocate disk storage within BigBlue iron.

Enter StorageTek, whose idea kitchen in Louisville, Colo., has cooked up technology that reduces the time required to deploy and manage Linux virtual machines on IBM mainframes.

StorageTek's ingredients? First, the revolutionary SVA (shared virtual array) V960, a storage cabinet with Fibre Channel and ESCON (Enterprise SystemsConnection) connectivity, and a storage capacity as high as 4,359GB. The second ingredient is StorageTek's recently announced SnapVantage software, an extension to the SVA administrative software that offers storagevirtualization, snapshots, and simplified management for Linux machines under VM.

In essence, SnapVantage makes it possible to create templates that specify what software should be loaded, how much disk space should be assigned, and what IPaddresses should be available on typical Linux VMs. So, depending on your environment, you can create templates for different purposes such as file servers, Web servers, or even isolated test environments, maximizing your mainframe investment. Select the most appropriate template from the browser-based GUI of SnapVantage, change or leave the default configuration, and a new, working Linux virtual machine will be up and running in seconds.

StorageTek's cookie-cutter approach ensures that each Linux machine's storage is made of virtual volumes from the SVA pool, making it possible to take volume snapshot in the blink of an eye. Add to that its capability of monitoring the SVA storage pool and controlling the VM server, and you have the most centralized and efficient VM system to date.

Taking storage to the extreme? E-mail us atdan_neel@infoworld.com and mario_apicella@infoworld.com.

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