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FlashArray for IBM i

 

IBM i and FlashArray

 

 

Summary

This document provides a technical validation and best practices for deploying IBM® Power® servers with IBM® i Operating System on a  Pure Storage® FlashArray™. The goal of this document is to present the most commonly used configuration. It includes the connectivity to a fibre adapter with IBM i running as a virtual machine (LPAR) and a VIO server running on an IBM® Power Server™.

Introduction

Pure Storage FlashArray offers an all-flash block storage solution for every IT need – from entry-level workload acceleration to 100% NVMe. Start anywhere and non-disruptively upgrade capacity and performance as needed.  

FlashArray simply does more, with zero compromise. Consolidate all your applications on 10x less power, cooling, space (compare to legacy disk-based solutions) as well as cost, since our industry-leading data reduction means you’ll buy a lot less storage, today and as you expand.

IBM® i is an operating system that runs on IBM Power Systems. It was named OS/400 when it was introduced with the AS/400 line of computer systems in 1988, was renamed to IBM i in 2008 when the IBM Power Systems were introduced. It is one of the operating systems supported on IBM Power Systems alongside AIX and Linux.

The use of external storage and the benefits of virtualization became a topic of discussion in the IBM® i area during the last several years. The use of IBM PowerVM® virtualization technology to virtualize Power server processors, memory and storage devices also became common in IBM i environments.

The IBM® PowerVM™ environment is required to support the Pure Storage FlashArray Volumes because it translates the volume to a new format understood by the IBM® i operating system.

 

Architectural Overview

High-Level Design

The implementation used and described in this document consists of a single IBM Power 822 with 20 core Power8,  a 16 Gb SAN fabric with 2 CISCO 9148s Fibre Channel Switches and a single FlashArray //X70

Within this implementation, we will use Pure Storage products to provide Storage Volumes, made available through the IBM Power VIOS server through the Hypervisor which present vSCSI virtual device to IBM i Operating System partition using block storage from a PureStorage FlashArray //x70.

 



 

Software Version Details

This table provides the installed software versions for the different components used in building this Implementation.

 

Software

Version

IBM® VIOS Server

2.2.6 or higher

Pure ODM for AIX or VIOS

1.0.0.7

IBM® i

7.2 or higher

IBM i Access Client Solution

1.1.8.1

IBM® HMC

V9R1

 

IBM i Access Client Solution

This is the terminal Emulator Software. It has to be set to access the HMC as well any IBM® i LPAR console which can be used on most Operating System (Windows, Max OS, Linux) as it runs as a Java application. It provides several other features that we don’t need to use for this exercise.

 

You can also access the console through the GUI on the HMC.

VIOS Server

The VIOS server is mandatory to support the Pure Storage FlashArray on IBM® i.

The usage of the VIOS server and FlashArray has been documented in the “IBM PowerVM with FlashArray” white paper located at the Pure Storage Support Web Site:

IBM® PowerVM with FlashArray

 

The VIOS server LPAR has to be installed as well as the  network access and storage access to the FlashArray and if needed to the DVD device are already set.

The version of the VIOS Server used to test this document is 2.2.6 :

 

 

Virtual Optical Device

There are multiple ways to install IBM®i on an IBM PowerVM system : DVD, Remote install, Virtual Optical device.

For this installation, we will use the Virtual Optical Device to install the IBM® i LPAR.

The following files should be already present on the VIOS configuration optical library:

 

B_GROUP1_01_IBM_i_RS_730-00_LCD8_2288_00.udf

I_BASE_01_Licensed_Machine_Code_RS_730-C_LCD8_2287_02.udf

 

Those files could be downloaded from the IBM Support site.

 

Multipath and VIOS

 

The VIOS Server is an AIX Partition, you need to apply the Pure Storage ODM, as described in the Documentation :  

AIX Recommended Settings

And as of April 2019, the Purestorage ODM version is : 1.0.0.7

 

IBM i LPAR creation using the HMC GUI

 

The first step is to connect to the HMC GUI, from the HMC GUI, goto the Power Server you need to create the IBM i LPAR and Click on the button

Create a new IBM i LPAR with enough Processor and Memory (2 CPU and 8G of RAM are enough)


Then Select the newly created partition, in this case, IBMi and assign the resources needed: Ethernet, on the FlashArray Volumes and Optical device (CD) .

 

We will not get in details for the creation of the Ethernet but the following chapters will describe the creation and usage of the FlashArray Volumes.

 

IBM® i LPAR Optical Device for Installation

 

The installation of the IBM® i Operating System can be initiated with Tape, DVD or Virtual Optical device. For this test, we will use the Virtual Optical device.

The IBM® i operating system could be installed from a Virtual Optical device as long as the partition “profile” has  “Tagged I/O” set for the alternate device.

 

The first operation is to add a virtual Optical Device and name it (here the name is “dvd”)

Then  Select the newly created partition, -> Partition Action -> Manage Profiles -> default_profile and then select the “Tagged I/O” tab and assign the Virtual optical device previously created.


 

 

 

Mapping storage through VIOS to IBM i

 

The logical disks from shared SAN storage are assigned to the VIOS partitions. Then  The FlashArray Volumes (LUN) can be attached through the SAN fabric to the VIOS partitions. The LUNs are mapped directly to the VIOS where they are shown as hdiskX devices. Afterward, a mapping from VIOS to the IBM i client must be configured. The VIOS server provides them to the IBM i client by using virtual SCSI (vSCSI) connections.

The FlashArray cannot handle the block size of 520 bytes required by the IBM® i operating system it does require to use a vSCSI device attached to the VIOS Server partition.

The management of vSCSI disks is built into the HMC GUI. It is also possible to configure everything from the VIOS command line.

To create a volume on the FlashArray and map it to the IBM VIOS server please refer to the documentation: AIX Recommended Settings

 

Mapping disks from VIOS to IBM i partition by using HMC GUI

 

Once the Volumes have been connected to the VIOServer, just map the disks from VIOS to an IBM® i partition, complete the following steps:

1. From the HMC GUI, Select the IBM® i partition

 

2. From the Virtual I/O menu, click Virtual Storage. then select the Virtual SCSI Tab. and click on the add Virtual SCSI Storage button

 

3. from the Add Virtual SCSI Device windows select “Physical Volume” and type a name we can also choose “Logical Volume” but for simplicity and performance the physical volume is preferred.

 

4. then check that the volume added fit has the same serial number than the one on the array: the Serial number is included within the Volume Unique Device ID here the serial number is B58F0E55BEF541D0000110F3

The disk is now visible within IBM® i and can be either added to the ASP as normal if the system is already booted from the internal drive or used as a boot device for the boot from SAN partition.

In this document, we will describe the boot from SAN installation process

 

Boot and start the Installation

 

Activate the LPAR

To be sure that the default_profile is used and has the DVD tagged, got to Partition Action -> Manage Profiles,  select default_profile (after validating that there is an alternate ) then select the teardown menu Action and select Activate.

 

For the first installation, the system needs to be booted in IPL Source D and Keylock manual. To do that Click on the Advanced Button ()and in the Advanced windows select Keylock position “Manual” and IPL type “D: IPL from the alternate load source”.

The click ok and then click on OK () to activate the partition

 

Access to the Console

Either go to the HMC console and start the "5250" console or use the Access IBM i program to start a 5250 terminal emulation and access to the LPAR.

You will type language used by the terminal (usually 21 for en_US) then the "userid" and "password" for HMC and then select the System where the partition is located, select the partition you want to get access to .

If the system is not ready or booting the message 0041 Connecting appear. it could take 2 to 3 minutes then the following screen appears :

 

Check the Disk Unit

Press enter on the Console until you reach the page “Install Licenced Internal Code” Select  2. Work with Dedicated Service Tools (DST).

Log to the system with the administrative user QSECOFR.

Then on the page “Use Dedicated Service Tools (DST) “ -> “4. Start a service tool “-> ”2. Hardware service manager” ->” 1. System bus resources” then from the page “Logical Hardware Resources on System Bus” put the option 9=Resources associated with IOP. :

Select the disk unit and  5=Display detail

The resource name here is DPH001, which could be found on the  HMC Page for the Virtual Storage. Then in the Volume Unique Device ID we find the Volume Serial which could be found on the FlashArray Management tool.

Once you know which volume Once you know which This validate the volume searched. in Our case the Volume “IBM-I-500G” from the FlashArray is called DPH001 in the IBM® i  and also have a serial number: YRDU6AJNVGM4 on the IBM i

 

Install the code

Once the Volume is detected and validated return to the main menu and select

1. Install Licensed Internal Code

After several minutes, the next page “ Select Load Source Device “ is coming up and will display the different Volumes available for install, select the one validated previously :

Then the next page just confirms the Volume,  Press F10 to confirm your choice.

On the page “Install Licensed Internal Code (LIC)” select the appropriate installation: in our case 2. Install Licensed Internal Code and Initialize system

Then continue following the pages until the page “Initialize the Disk - Status” start and the menu is started.

The IBM Documentation to install IBM i licence is located at :

Installing IBM i and related software on a new system or logical partition

 

Once the code is installed it will reboot and if the key lock Position is set to Normal, will automatically IPL and display the login screen :

 

You can now use your system the device used to IPL is the FlashArray.

Once logged, we can start the system service tool with the “STRSST” command.

The following screenshot is showing the Disk configuration status and the Capacity used :

Conclusion

The use of a FlashArray with an IBM® i Operating System will bring an increase in terms of performance and advanced security, and there is no need to use Disk RAID at the operating system as the FlashArray provides the redundancy needed. The FlashArray provides numerous advanced features which can be used as the Active Cluster (on the VIOS vSCSI) and always on encryption at rest.

 

 

 

Notices

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