As you begin to implement solutions on Power Systems with Linux, a key element of your planning has to be how to support the environment. There are several aspects of support, and we usually first think of “how do I get fixes and updates.” This is only part of what you need to understand and plan for. You also need to address areas such as: what can I do to insure the first installation is successful; how do I call support for issues; what level of support do I need (9×5 or 7×24); how can I get tuning support; how to keep up to date on latest information on Linux on Power; how can I communicate with the Power Linux community; and who are IBM and Business Partner resources I can call directly.
When you first order a Linux distribution for Power Systems, RedHat and S– USE offer subscriptions for one or three years. This entitles you to fixes, updates and releases for that time period. The updates and fixes are downloadable from the RedHat or S– USE networks, at your convenience. Ubuntu has a similar concept, but since they are no-charge and the distribution is downloadable, the “subscription” is always in effect. Subscriptions do not allow you to call nor post issues that need to be resolved. This is called “support” and has to be added for a fee to the subscription. Support is available as “standard” meaning you can call 9×5, or you can obtain “premium,” which allows 7×24 call support. You can obtain support from RedHat, S– USE or IBM at various price points. You could also get support from IBM and the distributor, but that is redundant and has 2x the cost. Choosing IBM or distributor support is a choice you have to make, based on who you want for your entitlement and level one contact. Behind the scenes, if you use IBM support, and the issue is in the distribution, IBM will pass the issue to the distributor. If the issue is in the POWER specific code, IBM will fix it and then forward the fix to the distributor for normal distribution. If you have the distributor as your support, then the reverse happens. Point is, IBM and the distributors work very closely on support of Power Linux. Ubuntu is community support and is done via the web, to the community. However, IBM does provide support for Ubuntu, just as provided for RedHat and S– USE, at the same price. For RedHat, S– USE, Ubuntu, the IBM support is per server, regardless of the number of virtual machines on the system. RedHat and S– USE support is per entitlement. This translates into different cost structures, which can be significant. If you are using Debian, OpenS– USE or Fedora, these do not have support services available other than community and updates to the code. One consideration that may help you decide on IBM or distributor support is where you are using Power Linux. If you are using Power Linux in the Power/AIX community, then IBM support may be attractive since you are already calling IBM for AIX, and now you can also call the same line for AIX or Linux. If, on the other hand, you are running Power Linux in the x86 department, you may want distributor support, since that is most likely the entitlement process you are already using. So, these are the fix support options you have to choose from, all are good, and you really cannot get it wrong.
Now, what about support to help in initial installations, tuning, hints, tips and quick questions, etc. IBM and Business Partners can help here. Linux is Linux, but installing Linux on Power Systems is not exactly the same as installing on x86 systems. IBM does provide a no-charge Installation Tool Kit that is downloadable, which installs and “tunes” Linux on Power. This can be downloaded from:
An alternative, or addition, to the tool kit is to engage IBM Lab Services, or a Business Partner, for the initial installation. I have seen where businesses that are familiar with x86 installs run into logic issues when attempting their first installation, and rather than have this happen, I suggest planning ahead with a resource to help you. There are also IBM Redbooks on this subject. And, speaking of Redbooks, there is a large portfolio of Power Linux Redbooks, which I highly recommend reviewing for various topics… rather than list them all, I would point you to Google search or the IBM Redbook site:
Occasionally, unforeseen issues evolve, and you need an answer from users with experience. This could be usage, performance or error conditions. Of course, your standard support structure can help, but I STRONGLY suggest you utilize the IBM DeveloperWorks site for Power Linux. This is a great source to ask questions, and to review what others in the Power Linux community are discussing. Here is the URL:
This site has Forums, Blogs, Wikis, etc. and is really great to use, post information and ask questions.
So, this was a view of using the distributor for support, Redbooks for knowledge and planning, people resources from BPs and IBM, installation aids and the DeveloperWorks forum. Planning and using these resources will provide you with very good support for your Power Linux operations.