8 October 2002 Systems giant IBM will today unveil the latest version of its AIX Unix operating system, AIX 5L version 5.2, which will include improved partitioning capabilities, according to IBM.
Partitioning enables an organisation to split a server into several separate partitions so that they can reliably run several different applications on the same machine.
IBM’s AIX has lagged in this area against key rivals Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, particularly in dynamic partitioning whereby the size of the partition can be increased or decreased according to the workload, without having to re-boot the server.
IBM says that it has fixed this shortcoming in the new version of AIX by adopting the partitioning techniques it pioneered on its mainframe lines.
IBM uses an extra software layer to create logical partitions between the operating system and the hardware. In theory, this layer of abstraction makes it easier to change the workload allocated to a specific partition.
Sun, which claims to be the pioneer of Unix server partitioning, adopts the approach of physically separating partitions within a server so that a major failure in one partition does not impact on another. HP uses a hybrid model of both software and hardware partitioning technology.
But partitioning is not the only enhancement IBM has made to AIX. The latest version also includes an upgrade to its “capacity on demand” processing feature. This technology means that customers can buy servers with more processors than they actually need. They can then quickly activate additional processors to meet increased processing volumes.
In fact, customers can already add processors in this way with the current version of AIX, but only in blocks of eight. AIX 5L 5.2 lets them add two processors at a time, which should prove most cost-effective.