Many (the majority) of our customers have an HMC (Hardware Management Console) appliance to manage their IBM Power systems, whether it be to manage multiple partitions (LPARs) or even to manage a single partition machine, HMCs are critical to the IBM i technology ecosystem.
HMC technology has very much evolved through the years, running on different processors and on a code base that has undergone constant change as IBM Power hardware and virtualization technologies have become more and more advanced, and HMC technology needed to keep pace to support those advancements.
It wasn’t too long ago that an order from IBM for a new HMC meant getting an IBM xSeries (Intel processor based) server “appliance” where the HMC software was pre-loaded at the factory and it simply needed to be racked & cabled-up on installation and configured for use. Times have changed a bit, and getting a new HMC now gets you an IBM Power-based server appliance not an Intel-based one, and, you now have the ability to go “virtual”, and the virtualized option is what we’ll be exploring a bit in this article.
First, a very quick general summary of what an HMC is, it is a Linux-based appliance that physically connects to the service processor (a.k.a. “FSP”, “server firmware”) of your IBM Power system and allows you to manage that physical system & its logical partitions, and provide console access to all partitions running on that system. The chart below from IBM’s documentation shows an example HMC managing AIX, IBM i, and Linux partitions running on an IBM Power system:
The HMC is a classic “one-trick pony” as it basically is a closed/locked-down appliance that has only one but very important role, to manage one or multiple IBM Power systems and the virtualization/configuration environments of all partitions running on those systems from a single pane of glass.
For many years, getting an HMC meant getting a dedicated physical box from IBM that ran the Linux operating system and the HMC software, but with widespread adoption of Intel-based virtualization technologies (like VMware) in just about every organization that has an IBM Power system, you now have a great alternative to installing/implementing the appliance, the Virtual HMC.
You can purchase the IBM Virtual HMC software to run on multiple supported virtual machine hypervisors, and currently, the supported x86 hypervisors (for IBM product code 5765-HMW) are KVM 2.5.0 on …