Today, IBM announced AIX version 7.

Several new features were mentioned in the launch, but there were two new features that I found particularly interesting:

- AIX 5.2 WPARs for AIX 7

- Cluster Aware AIX

I thought I would briefly describe each feature in this post.

AIX 5.2 WPARs for AIX 7

In AIX version 7, administrators will now have the capability to create Workload Partitions (WPARs) that can run AIX 5.2, inside an AIX 7 operating system instance. This will be supported on the POWER7 server platform. This is pretty cool. IBM have done this to allow some customers, that are unable to migrate to later generations of AIX and Power, to move to POWER7 whilst keeping their legacy AIX 5.2 systems operational. So for those clients that MUST stay on AIX 5.2 (for various reasons such as Application support) but would like to run their systems on POWER7, this feature may be very attractive. It will help to reduce the effort required when consolidating older AIX 5.2 systems onto newer hardware. It may also reduce some of the risk associated with migrating applications from one version of the AIX operating system to another.

To migrate an existing AIX 5.2 system to an AIX 7 WPAR, administrators will first need to take a mksysb of the existing system. Then they can simply restore the mksysb image inside the AIX 7 WPAR. IBM will also offer limited defect and how-to support for the AIX 5.2 operating system in an AIX 7 WPAR. These WPARs can, of course, be managed via IBM Systems Director with the Workload Partitions Manager plug-in.

The following figure provides a visualization of how these AIX 5.2 systems will fit into an AIX 7 WPAR. The WPARs in blue are native AIX 7 WPARs, while the WPARs in orange are AIX 5.2 WPARs running in the same AIX 7 instance. Pretty amazing really!


I can only speculate as to what other versions of AIX will be supported in this manner in the future. Just imagine an AIX 5.3 WPAR inside AIX7?

Cluster Aware AIX

Another very interesting feature of AIX 7 is a new technology known as Cluster Aware AIX. Believe it or not, administrators will now be able to create a cluster of AIX systems using features of the new AIX 7 kernel. IBM have introduced this in built clustering to the AIX OS in order to simplify the configuration and management of highly available clusters. This new AIX clustering has been designed to allow for:

- The easy creation of clusters of AIX instances for scale-out computing or high availability.

- Significantly simplify cluster configuration, construction, and maintenance.
- Improve availability by reducing the time to discover failures.

- Capabilities such as common device naming to help simplify administration.

- Built in event management and monitoring.

- A foundation for future AIX capabilities and the next generation of PowerHA SystemMirror.

This does not replace PowerHA but it does change the way in which AIX traditionally integrates with cluster software like HACMP and PowerHA. A lot of the HA cluster functionality is now available in the AIX 7 kernel itself. However, the mature RSCT technology is still a component of the AIX and PowerHA configuration. Im looking forward to reading more about this new technology and its capabilities.

These are just two of the many features introduced in AIX 7. Im eagerly looking forward to what these features and others mean for the future of the AIX operating system. Its exciting to watch this operating system grow and strengthen over time. I cant wait to get my hands on an AIX 7 system so that I can trial these new features.

And speaking of trialing AIX 7, there is good news. IBM plan on running another AIX Open Beta program for AIX 7 mid 2010. Just as they did with AIX Version 6, customers will be given the opportunity to download a beta version of AIX 7 and trial it on their own systems in their own environment. This is very exciting and Im really looking forward to it.

I encourage you to read the official AIX 7 announcement to learn more about the future of the AIX operating system and what it can do for you and your organization..for many years to come!