By: Eric Larese
PowerVC Development

Introduction to PowerVC Networking for HMC

Overview

IBM PowerVC provides a simple user interface for managing your virtualized IBM POWER processor systems.  PowerVC provides support for managing the PowerVM hypervisor running with Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) or Hardware Management Console (HMC).  PowerVC 1.2.1.x provides support for managing the PowerKVM hypervisor.

In this post, we will focus on networking configuration for PowerVM and the HMC and IVM environments.

 

PowerVM Networking Concepts

To understand how PowerVC configures the network on your POWER systems, it is useful to review a few networking fundamentals that are unique to POWER systems:

Virtual Machine (VM) – An instance of an operating system that runs on the hypervisor.  These are called Logical Partitions (LPARs) on POWER systems.

Shared Ethernet Adapter (SEA) – A logical representation of a physical network adapter.  An SEA allows multiple VMs to connect to the external network through the same physical network adapter.  PowerVC requires at least one SEA to be created on a POWER host.

Virtual local area network (VLAN) – A technique for segmenting or isolating portions of a network that are physically connected.  A VLAN causes individual packets to be tagged with a number (1 – 4095).  Switches will route the packets only to ports configured for that VLAN.

Virtual Input/Output Server (VIOS) – A VM that runs on PowerVM hypervisor and is responsible for controlling storage and network traffic and configuration.

Virtual Ethernet adapter (VEA) – A logical representation of a network interface card (NIC), a VEA can be found on a VM, within the hypervisor, and on the VIOS.

 

Key Features

PowerVC utilizes and extends the strengths of OpenStack to provide precision management of your network.  PowerVC has undergone extensive testing in a variety of scaled environments to ensure many exotic configurations are handled correctly and to provide a clean user experience.  Here are some key features provided by PowerVC for network configuration in an HMC environment:

Automated VLAN Management – In order for network traffic to flow on a VLAN, that VLAN needs to be bridged to an SEA through a VEA on one or more VIOS partitions.  PowerVC makes this easy by handling this configuration automatically.  If a VLAN is not bridged onto an SEA, the first deploy of a VM that uses the VLAN causes the VLAN to be bridged onto an SEA.  For a given SEA, PowerVC can attach and manage more than 300 VLANs.

Manual VLAN Overrides – If the automatically selected SEA is inappropriate for your environment, you can use the PowerVC console to change the SEA that bridges a specific VLAN to meet your needs.  The system can normally do this without requiring the user to go to the HMC.

Automated VEA Management – When a VM is deployed, PowerVC automatically creates a VEA on the VM for each network the VM is connected to, up to 8 networks per VM.  The VEA is then connected to an SEA that bridges the VLAN for the desired network.

Multiple Virtual Switch Support – SEAs can be configured to connect to different vSwitches within the PowerVM hypervisor.  If you are taking advantage of this feature, PowerVC will detect the vSwitches and display which vSwitch is currently in use and will account for different vSwitches when configuring SEAs and VLANs.

Redundant SEA/Multi-VIOS Support – PowerVC supports a multi-VIOS configuration that has SEAs configured for redundancy.  The redundant SEAs are displayed in the PowerVC console and changes to one SEA will automatically update the redundant SEAs.  This configuration is not limited to dual VIOS. It is possible to use four or even more VIOS partitions.

Unused VLAN Cleanup – As a way to minimize the broadcast domain, if a host is not using a network, PowerVC will remove the VLAN from that network (unless it is the on the primary VEA adapter – ex. PVID).  This helps reduce unnecessary traffic to your host.  If there are virtual machines using a given VLAN that is not managed by PowerVC, then PowerVC will not clean up the VLAN because it is not fully under PowerVC management.

 

Conclusion

PowerVC provides extensive network configuration support through an easy-to-use console.  Many of the tedious tasks for deploying, managing, and deleting VMs in your HMC environment are handled automatically.  Our extensive testing and development will help you manage your environment regardless of how sophisticated your configuration is.

Visit ibm.com today to learn more about PowerVC and see how it can help you!

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