Senior Systems Engineer
IBM announced the preview of z/VM 6.4 in February of 2016. z/VM 6.4 will be the newest release of IBM’s very robust and mature z Systems’ hypervisor. z/VM has been around for more than forty years and has been enhanced all along the way. Today, z/VM is tightly integrated with all the z Systems it supports, allowing you to take advantage of the new hardware features introduced on the new z13 and z13s, as well as the new LinuxOne servers.
In this new release, enhancements have been made to some very important components to allow for better utilization of resources and management of z/VM and its’ guests. Upgrade in Place, which is a feature that has been around for a few years, but is still relatively new to z/VM, has been enhanced to allow for the upgrade from z/VM 6.2 and z/VM 6.3 to z/VM 6.4. This feature is quite significant, and can save a lot of time and coordination around upgrading from one release to another. In the past, there was no upgrade process, so you would be required to build a new z/VM system and migrate all of your guests and configuration changes over to the new system. Because of the way z/VM is set up, this is not technically difficult, more of the problems are centered around ensuring you accounted for all of your changes from the old release to the new release. This Upgrade in Place feature, along with the Single System Image feature, can allow you to ‘roll’ an upgrade in over time, with ample time to test along the way. Within a Single System Image cluster, you can have different release levels, allowing you to test an upgrade on one member without affecting the other members.
Another of the enhancements to this release will be HyperPAV support for z/VM page packs. In this release, if you have a storage subsystem such as the IBM DS8XXX, that has HyperPAV support you can set up your z/VM page volumes to allow HyperPAV to manage the i/o to a page pack. If the base volume is busy, then HyperPAV will utilize a pool of alias devices to start the i/o on one of these alias devices, helping to eliminate i/o bottlenecks. This support will also be available for other system volumes, such as sysres and spool packs.
Other enhancements will center around CP environment variables. This is intended to help with management of different environments, such as disaster recovery and help with automation of how the system comes up, as well as which guests are brought up and in which order.
There are several other enhancements around RACF and Dirmaint interoperability, allowing OpenStack and IBM Wave to deploy Linux guests without as much administrator intervention, as well as minimizing operating system overhead and guest large page support.
With new features being added to new releases of z/VM, there is always the change to the minimum supported hardware that z/VM will run on. For z/VM 6.4, this will be a z196, a z114 or newer. All older processors will no longer be supported. This new release of z/VM is targeted for general release in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Mainline has extensive experience with z/VM, from installation to managing production environments.
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