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VIOS 3.1 Overview

By MALLESH LEPAKSHAIAH posted Tue July 28, 2020 07:16 AM


PowerVM VIOS 3.1 is a new version of VIOS that is based on AIX 7.2 (AIX 7.2 TL3).

The primary drivers for rebasing the VIOS to the latest version of AIX were modernization, security, and resiliency. AIX 7.2 is a clean and state-of-the-art base OS with many features that are beneficial for PowerVM virtualization.

To facilitate fast, reliable, and non-disruptive migration of existing VIOS’s, IBM is providing an automation tool to assist in the upgrade process. 

Key features of version 3.1 are as follows:

1. Cloud ready

  • iSCSI (network storage) virtualization 
    • iSCSI support in VIOS allows iSCSI disks to be exported to client LPARs as virtual disks (vSCSI disks).  
    • Enables MPIO support for the iSCSI initiator.  With MPIO support, users will be able to configure and create multiple paths to an iSCSI disk similar to what is available and supported for other storage protocols.  
    • Modified both VIOS VSCSI and AIX iSCSI device drivers to support iSCSI disks in VIOS.
    • Requires FW level 860.20 or later on POWER8 and FW level 910.00 or later on POWER9 systems. 

2. Modernization

  • Device driver enhancements (i.e performance, efficiency, RAS) in AIX 7.2.
  • Accelerator enablement is only available on AIX 7.2, VIOS on a base that allows exploitation of accelerators for virtualization.
  • Native compatibility mode (p8, p9).

3. Security & Resiliency

  • Software clean-up
    • Removed old software and old bundled solutions by using a clean AIX 7.2 base.
    • Removed other unnecessary packages from the VIOS release. For instance, there is no support for IVM, pConsole, Web-based System manager, Cluster System Management, NIS+, Task Guide, CAS Sub agent, IBM Systems Director.
    • Removed old Java versions that are no longer in support (and may have had vulnerabilities), etc. 
  • Smaller footprint to allow shorter maintenance windows in the field.
  • Storage multipathing improvements
    • Various improvements including in the area of transient and sick-but-not-dead error handling; improved command time-out handling, etc.
  • SSP Enhancements   
    • Support for virtual IP address (VIPA) with multi-path routing. This functionality allows the storage pool to use multiple networks for communication redundancy, so that if one network goes down, then the storage pool can use the other network and is not impacted.
    • Storage pool log retention for improved RAS capability. Multiple log files are maintained to better preserve debug data. A log wrapping issue was also resolved, which was causing premature wrap of the log.
    • Hardening of disk quorum (meta-root replica set) and manager disk challenge when mirroring is utilized, which involves various fixes for disk failure scenarios with a mirrored storage pool.
    • Avoiding cluster wide outages. Various issues were resolved that would result in a hung or inaccessible storage pool.

4. Simplified Migration to VIOS 3.1 version

  • viosupgrade tool on NIM Server for smooth and easy migration from VIOS 2.2.x to VIOS 3.1 version.
    • viosupgrade tool performs the operations of backing up the virtual and logical configuration data, installing the specified image, and restoring the virtual and logical configuration data of the Virtual I/O Server from the NIM Server.
    • Supported from AIX 7.2 TL-03 SP-02 (7200-03-02).
    • bosinst type of installation for new & complete installation.
    • altdisk type of installation for alternate disk alt_mksysb_install.
    • Up to 30 VIO Servers installation can be triggered in parallel.
  • viosupgrade tool on VIOS for smooth and easy migration from VIOS 2.2.6.x to VIOS 3.1 version. 
    • It is an auto-migration process. This VIOS tool performs the operation of self-Backup of virtual and logical configuration data, Self-Installation of the specified image, and Self-Restore of the virtual and logical configuration data of the Virtual I/O Server.
    • Supported from VIOS or later for smooth VIOS 3.1 migration.
    • Installation is of alt_disk_mksysb type.

5. Availability & Other Details

  • GA Date: Nov 9th 2018.
  • Supported hardware: POWER9, POWER8, POWER7+.
  • USB flash drive install support.
  • VIOS Recognized solutions.

Note: Details on non-disruptive migration to VIOS 3.1 will be published in a follow-up blog.

Contacting the PowerVM Team

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