Many organizations have embraced virtualization to improve IT utilization and reduce the expenses associated with equipment acquisition, installation, and operation. While traditional virtualization or partitioning schemes have improved IT resource utilization, reducing the number of physical servers has not reduced the number of server operating system (OS) images requiring administration and maintenance. If anything, virtualization has encouraged growth in the number of servers that support the application workloads in organizations. There is an opportunity for IT to reduce this administrative overhead to become more streamlined and cost-efficient while continuing to provide the levels of service on which organizations have become dependent.
IBM AIX 6.1, through its support for Workload Partitions (WPARs), enables organizations to rethink the way they deploy multiple workloads on a single server. While traditional approaches such as virtualization using logical partitioning provide OS isolation and independence, for many workloads, this degree of isolation exceeds the user's need and results in unnecessary administrative and operational overhead.
WPARs offer IT managers a more cost-effective yet secured approach that meets the needs of many organizations. WPARs differ from other partitioning or virtualization schemes in that they partition server resources by the workload and share access to a single OS image. This is in contrast with the more common approach of creating a discrete operating system image to support each virtual server. By reducing the number of OS images required, the level of server software maintenance and other related IT administrative and management activity can be decreased while maintaining streamlined operational management and reduced need for physical resources.
WPARs increase resource utilization from the typical 5-20% average, reduce partition creation and teardown times, and reduce the number of OS instances and associated system management workload. WPARs provide standard application environments, support mobility and templates as well as cloning, and have automated policy-based resource and workload management through the WPAR manager. Consolidating with WPARs saves floor space and reduces the power consumption and expense associated with servers and air conditioning in the data center while maintaining the one-app/one-server deployment paradigm.
In this paper, we examine the flexibility that WPARs offer IT professionals in their virtualized UNIX server environments. In particular, we review how WPARs are different from other partitioning technologies and how WPARs complement existing environments. We discuss the capabilities and practical uses of WPARs in sample scenarios and articulate the ways in which WPARs provide an alternative to other partitioning schemes. Through AIX 6.1 and its support for WPARs and PowerVM Live Application Mobility, IT managers have greater flexibility in server configuration and can select the best approach to meet the user organization's needs while also simplifying the operational and cost efficiency of the IT environment.
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