Integrating IBM AIX's NIM and SUMA

Now that you've had an overview of key sessions -- and parties -- attended at IBM System p, AIX 5L and Linux Technical University, as well as the "buzz" on HACMP and Linux, our contributor Ken Milberg dives into some of the more technical takeaways. In this column, he discusses the integration of AIX's NIM (Network Installation Manager) and SUMA (Service Update Management Assistant), and what it means to you as a channel professional.


Ken Milberg
There is more to know about IBM's Tech University than the parties (yes, senior management, we really do go to every class). Let's talk technical.

Long-time alumni know that if you really want to learn something, you make sure you go to a Susan Schreitmueller class. Widely recognized as one of the sharpest AIX guru's around (she's an IBMer), her seminars are always one of the most popular, so you must be prepared to come early and get a seat. Two of her classes that I attended this year:

IBM Tech University Series
Part 1: A week at IBM University
Part 2: HACMP meet Linux
Part 3: Integrating IBM AIX's NIM and SUMA
Part 4: IBM AIX best practices

  • NIM (Network Installation Manager) and SUMA (Service Update Management Assistant) integration
  • Care and feeding of AIX

Integrating NIM and SUMA

First we'll start with NIM and SUMA. As a Unix administrator who has used both tools, I wanted to see what's new and how these systems are now integrated. For those of you not familiar with these systems, NIM is IBM's system for allowing AIX installation through a network, similar to Solaris' Jump Start. SUMA allows you to automate the update process for AIX patches and maintenance updates. Among other announced improvements, NIM can now collect inventory for all POWER5 components. It can also install, update, control distribution and maintain all the images and fixes. SUMA is basically the traffic copy for downloading all the updates.

This type of utility integration makes it that much easier to properly administer a customer's environment, which can ultimately help justify your existence to senior management at the client site.
Ken Milberg
systems consultantUnix-Linux Solutions

You can configure polices to include all types of fixes, including specific APARs, critical fixes, fileset fixes, entire technology level upgrades (formerly referred to as maintenance level upgrades), specific PTFs and security fixes.

To now integrate all of these fixes, you would use niminv to gather the inventory of NIM clients and then use SUMA to download appropriate fixes to a NIM master, based on the inventory. NIM would deploy and track the fixes. Niminv would run on a schedule to generate inventory reports of hardware (system and adapter microcode) and software for comparison and tracking, so you can monitor rate of change and track discrepancies in your server farm deployment. SUMA can now even filter against an lpp_source, monitor for updates and notify administrators of critical or desired fixes.

AIX channel opportunities

For the AIX administrator managing a production environment, this is all very exciting stuff. It is also equally exciting for the system integrator who is providing high-level pSeries and AIX consulting for the client. As you know, most of your clients are so busy with day-to-day tasks they don't get out much. When you offer value to the client by providing information or helping support an environment, you'll get a big plus if you're able to proactively recommend solutions. This type of utility integration makes it that much easier to properly administer a customer's environment, which can ultimately help you justify your existence to senior management at the client site.

In the final part of this series, Ken Milberg will cover AIX best practices learned at IBM Tech University.

About the author: Kenneth Milberg is a systems consultant with his own independent consulting firm, Unix-Linux Solutions. He has 15 years' worth of experience with Unix and Linux systems, as well as broad technical and functional experience with AIX, HP, SCO, Linux and Solaris. Milberg holds certifications with IBM (IBM Certified Systems Expert -- eServer p5 and pSeries Enterprise Technical Support AIX 5L V5.3 & IBM Certified Specialist –HACMP), SUN (SCNA,SCSA), HP (HP Certified –HP-UX administration) Cisco (CCNA) and Oracle (OCP-DBO).

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