IBM will soon provide enhanced functionality for its z/VM virtualization platform on System z10 mainframes -- in particular, the ability of z/VM to use multiple specialty processors on a single logical partition (LPAR).
Big Blue says that the new z/VM functionality enables shops to run workloads on different types of processors within a single LPAR, thus conserving memory. The processors include general-purpose processors, the Internal Coupling Facility (ICF) for sysplexes, the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), the z application assist processor (zAAP), and the z integration information processor (zIIP).
IBM's z/VM has been around since 1972, decades before VMware Inc. made server virtualization the new buzz phrase. This new functionality will be available in a future version of z/VM, the release date of which IBM wouldn't disclose. But Big Blue tends to release new versions of z/VM every 15 months or so. In February 2007, IBM released its current z/VM, V5.3, and a new version is due out soon.
The new functionality will be offered only on z10, which IBM released earlier this year . The server can run 64 4.4 GHz processors, compared with 54 1.7 GHz processors on its predecessor, the z9. It also has 1.52 TB of memory capacity, three times that of the z9.
"We have a good number of clients that run z/OS on z/VM to do test-and-development work," said Reed Mullen, IBM's lead z/VM product planner. "On a z9, if I want to run z/OS on z/VM, I would have to configure a general-purpose engine LPAR to host the environment. On the same system, if I want to run Linux on z/VM, I would have to configure another LPAR."
That means two things. One, each LPAR might not use all the resources allocated to it, potentially wasting memory. And second, the user is left with two copies of z/VM that need to be managed.
In contrast, with the new version of z/VM on the z10, users can run Linux and z/OS on z/VM within the same LPAR. In addition to flexibility for test-and-development environments, the capability could be useful for replication scenarios, Mullen said. It will be possible, for example, to mirror a production-level z/OS LPAR and a production-level zLinux LPAR to a single backup LPAR running z/OS and zLinux on z/VM.
On a separate note, IBM now offers an evaluation edition of the current version of z/VM, version 5.3, on z10 so users can test the functions of z/VM for free and without having to go through their IBM rep. The new upcoming z/VM functionality, however, is not available on the evaluation version.