How can you configure a Power System remotely, without even a NIM server to start you off? The first step is to build a Virtual I/O server from the HMC.
In this article, I’ll present some tips for installing a Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) remotely—without physical media and without a Network Installation Manager (NIM) server. This is useful if you have to configure an IBM Power System in a remote data center. You shouldn't need to travel to the data center, and you won't have to schedule someone to be on-site to load DVDs: You can build it all remotely, starting with the VIOS, which makes a great starting point for installing your other logical partitions. Also, this procedure is particularly helpful if you don't have an up-to-date NIM server, which could be the case on a site that’s just starting to use AIX.
Let’s walk through the process. Once your VIOS is installed, you can create a virtual media repository, which can be done with a single command. The virtual media repository can be used to store AIX installation images in ISO format, and those can be used to build your VIO client logical partitions. You can build your NIM server from the AIX images, and from there you're ready to build other partitions as needed.
This approach isn’t suitable for every environment. If you do use it, note that there are some prerequisites.
You'll need a Hardware Management Console (HMC) connected to your Power System, and it will need to be accessible via a network link from where you are. Other prerequisites are covered in more detail in the article “Building Your Power Systems Server without Data Center Access.” At the end of that article, you'll find some useful links to help you configure the VIOS and build other logical partitions.
Access to VIOS Installation Images
First up, the VIOS installation images need to be accessible. They can be downloaded from IBM Entitled Software Support (ESS), shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: The Entitled Software Support page
Note that ESS is different from IBM Fix Central, which is where you get your AIX updates. In ESS, you can download the AIX installation images—what IBM documentation still refers to as product media. You need an IBM ID, as well as your IBM customer number, machine type, and serial number, to access ESS. To access the VIOS installation images, click the Software Downloadslink. You might as well get both the VIOS and the AIX images, because you'll need them for the build of the AIX logical partitions.
The next step is to create the logical partition profile for the VIOS. You can do this using the HMC GUI or the HMC Command Line Interface (CLI).
Once the partition profile is built, you can install it from the ISO image downloaded from IBM. But how does the HMC get access to these images if you don't have physical media or a NIM server?
The VIOS image can be accessed via a Network File System (NFS) mount, or you can copy the images via scp to your home directory on the HMC. This might be a better option if you want to copy the file ahead of time and then start the installation process.
Install Using installios
The VIOS installation happens from the HMC command line using the installios command. You'll need remote command execution on the HMC to use it. (There are a couple of articles in the Learning Path that will help here.)
So, suppose you've logged in to the HMC via SSH and you want to run installios to begin installing the VIOS. The installios command has more than 10 flags that you might need to be able to build the VIOS. Many of them are basic: the managed system name, the partition name, various network settings for your VIOS, and so on. For example, the -d flag is used to point to the path to the installation images, such as the home directory on the HMC or an NFS mount.
How are you going to remember all of those flags? Relax! All the flags are optional. If you just run installios without any flags, you'll step through a wizard that asks you the information required for the VIOS install. The article I mentioned above on building a data center remotely shows a sample of the screens.
Build the VIOS
The VIOS vanilla installation typically takes under half an hour (your mileage might differ). With a decent network link, you can avoid travelling to a data center just to load a DVD. (Ah, the glories of working in IT!) That can be a significant time and money saver, which is especially important for projects where you're short on time and money (aren't they all like that?).
Putting it all Together
Once you've got the VIOS installed via the HMC installios command, you can continue to build the rest of your Power System environment. Here are the high-level steps:
- Create virtual media repository on VIOS
- Build a NIM server from the AIX installation images in the virtual media repository
- Build AIX logical partitions from NIM
The simple, little-known installios command becomes the launching pad for building your Power System without ever seeing or touching it. In other words, you can build your Power System from home, in your pajamas.
With more and more companies opting to keep their systems in “lights-out” data centers, it's important to be able to build and manage those operating systems remotely. I hope this article has been helpful in showing you how.
Command Line access to the Hardware Management Console: Hardware Management Console 101
To install and manage logical partitions for VIO Server, AIX, IBM i and Linux: Logical Partitioning
The VIO server cheat sheet (Christian Pruett, developerWorks, July 2010) walks you through the initial setup of the VIO server
For setting up the Virtual I/O Server, check the resources on the PowerVM wiki