IBM Power 5 and Linux virtualization shrink data center

Using IBM Power 5 with virtualized Linux servers will allow VARs to help reduce customer's data center size and run both hardware and software more efficiently.

Channel takeaway: SearchEnterpriseLinux.com recently sat down with IBM's Adam Jollans, worldwide Linux strategy manager, to discuss how Linux server virtualization will affect IT shops. VARs can use Jollans' interview to get insight on the upcoming Linux server virtualization options that they will be able to offer to customers to reduce server sprawl and improve efficiency.


SearchOpenSource.com: IBM bills the p5 hardware as more efficient and 'designed specifically to support virtualization.' Could you elaborate on that?

Alan Jollans: If you are in a virtual system, you need to be able to run multiple instances at the same time without them trampling each other. You can do this virtualization at the software level but you get a performance overhead. With projects like Xen, changes are made at the operating system level. You can also do virtualization at the hardware level, which is the most efficient way of virtualization. Because Linux is a cross platform operating system, and because applications such as Apache, PHP, Geronimo and MySQL are available on Linux on multiple platforms, customers have choices in terms of where to run Linux applications and find the places where they're going to be the most efficient.

To complement this, IBM introduced a new server -- the System p5 560Q at the LinuxWorld Open Solutions Summit. This machine is IBM's latest virtualization offering and is based on IBM POWER5+, which is a 64-bit RISC-based processor technology. The 560Q comes with virtualization tools for allocating logical partitions for virtual Linux machines, allocating processor and memory resources to virtual machines. Administrators can even configure the servers in Ethernet VLANs inside the box.

What's the target customer for this virtual/Linux push from IBM?

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Jollans: One is the customer that handles hundreds of servers. Then there's the mid-tier [box] based on blades that goes for $3,000 to $40,000, and that is specifically aimed at the Web-tier customer. These deployments aren't necessarily complex, but are designed for customers that want to have lots of services running in parallel. Another announcement in this area was a bundle between Advanced Micro Devices, Novell and IBM's Informix Dynamic Server. This is meant to provide an efficient platform for retail customers.

What areas are going to be impacted the most by Linux and virtualization this year?

Jollans: The big impact will be for people that have really underutilized systems, and for people who begin to realize they want to save on power costs. Virtualization will also begin to seep into a couple of other areas. For example, one thing Xen can do in a grid environment is it can transfer the whole state of a machine from one system to another system. In terms of dynamic computing, this is very important.

In the security arena, IT managers will begin to ask 'how do you have security between different OSes?' If you have a virtual system, what you don't want is to have people coming in through a Windows system and being able to do things that relate to the Linux system. The gold standard right now is managerial access control security systems, which the military has used for a number of years. This is what they did with SELinux. This lets users add security to the hypervisor layer so we have these firm installations between OSes. We'll soon have straightforward policies for managerial access control security systems and protection for Linux and Windows.

Read the rest of the interview with Jollans at SearchEnterpriseLInux.com.


This was first published in May 2007

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