IBM Charts Open Beta Course For AIX 6

Oracle  isn’t the only software vendor with major upgrades in the works.

IBM  released its first ever open beta for AIX 6.1, the latest version of the company’s Unix operating system, one day after Oracle unveiled more than 400 features in its Database 11g.

AIX 6.1 features new virtualization, security, manageability and near continuous availability, according to Jay Kruemcke, program director of AIX.

AIX 6.1 includes Workload Partitions (WPARs), a type of virtualization software that curbs the number of operating system images that have to be managed when consolidating workloads. Workload Partitions let system administrators consolidate multiple applications in a single running instance of AIX 6.1.

Partitioning workloads enables users to carve up portions of the OS so that each has its own IP address. WPARs get a portion of the system resources available to the instance of AIX 6 and share the AIX 6.1 kernel resource and I/O.

The idea, Kruemcke said, is to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs associated with managing multiple virtual machines. WPARs also complement the System Logical Partitions in AIX.

Building on the WPAR technology, AIX 6.1’s new Live Application Mobility lets users relocate running WPARs between physical servers without restarting the application. The purpose is to minimize impediments to application performance.

With security being a cross that most admins have to bear in datacenters today, AIX 6.1 now employs Role-Based Access Control. This function lets admins authorize the management of certain AIX resources to so-called “non-root” users without giving them the keys to the kingdom. Admins retain peace of mind that their application data is safe while users get more freedom.

Taking a page from Sun Microsystems’ DTrace tool, IBM has added dynamic tracing capabilities to AIX 6.1, which simplifies the debugging of complex systems or application code, providing for near-continuous availability.

Kruemcke said this feature is leveraged via IBM’s new tracing command, which lets a developer or system administrator dynamically insert trace breakpoints in existing code without having to recompile the code.

Finally, to make managing AIX 6.1 easier, the new IBM Systems Director Console for AIX offers a Web browser-based window through which to control IBM’s Systems Management Interface Tool, Workload Partition Management and the Role-Based Access Control. The console’s interface will integrate into future IBM Director products.

AIX 6.1 will run on IBM System p systems based on Power4, Power5 and Power6 chips (including the new IBM System p 570), System i5 platforms, as well as the PowerPC 970 for BladeCenter and IntelliStation Power workstation.

The software, which IBM expects to make available to all in the fourth quarter, will be fully binary compatible with previous releases of AIX 5L.

Also, users who use “advanced Power virtualization” can run Linux applications natively in one or more logical partitions running SUSE Linux Enterprise or Red Hat Enterprise Linux integrated with AIX applications on the same System p server.

One more thing to note: the “open” beta should not be mistaken for open source. But it is a more free-flowing form of beta test. Kruemcke said the open beta means “almost anyone who is interested” will be able to download and install a pre-release version of AIX 6.1.

Traditionally, IBM would only offer the beta test to a few select clients. However, participants in the open beta will not receive traditional support from IBM. Rather, testers must refer to a Web forum for help with any issues.

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