IBM's System x servers step toward virtualization
Big Blue takes the xSeries in a new direction with management, functionality upgradesFollow @pvenezia
The VM hosted on the x3550 platform easily bested the other, achieving roughly a 25 percent performance gain in requests per second. The single-core/dual-core divide between the systems was definitely a factor, but the x3550's FSB and much faster RAM also played a significant part, despite the slower clock speed.
IBM has also been working to integrate virtualization support with its Director management framework. Director is designed to be a whole-enterprise server management suite, providing hooks to manage every IBM server product from mainframes to blade servers. It will give you sorted, well-organized views of hardware and software components on Windows and Linux servers deployed far and wide. Agents running on the servers provide the necessary feedback to the Director server.
At the VM level, Director now enables similar views of VMs running on VMware GSX and ESX virtualization platforms, as well as Microsoft Virtual Server. This means there's very little difference in managing VMs versus physical servers, as the IBM agents loaded in virtual servers can deliver nearly the same resource and performance views as on a physical server. Coupled with hardware failure detection and notifications at the physical level, Director can handle dynamic VM migrations to keep virtual servers that are running on failing hardware online.
Director also offers the ability to perform automated bare-metal virtualization host-server builds, such as turning up a new VMware ESX server to handle increased load. Although it's possible to perform basic initial VM configuration from within Director, IBM punts to VMware's VirtualCenter management tools to handle the rest.
The System x3550 is IBM's take on the future of the datacenter -- a future based on low- to midrange server virtualization, and rife with advanced management and deployment tools, dynamic load-aware resource sharing, and, of course, IBM hardware. The new crop of System x servers looks to be a solid step in that direction.