Centralize AIX LPAR and Server Management With NIM
In a previous article, “Simplifying With NIM,” I introduced the concepts of network install manager (NIM) and mentioned some ways it can cut costs while addressing OS image backups and installations. In this article, I’ll outline how to set up a NIM server and install or recover a client from a mksysb of another system.
NIM provides a central management point for installing and maintaining AIX* images for both LPARs and individual servers. It allows for the creation of a master image (also called a golden image), which is used to install cloned LPARs that have the same OS kernel and characteristics. Additionally, NIM can be used to install from installation software, from a golden image or from a previous mksysb image of the OS instance, and it can apply maintenance or bundles of products. It’s possible to quickly NIM install a single or multiple LPARs or servers at the same time. If you were using DVDs it could take up to eight hours to completely install an OS image and all of the add-on products. When installing multiple systems or LPARs, this is a time-consuming process, but once NIM is set up it takes 20 to 30 minutes to install an LPAR from a NIM image.
Setting up NIM
The NIM server can be an LPAR or a dedicated server. It can be in the shared-processor pool or have dedicated processors. I recommend the NIM server isn’t under the control of the virtual I/O server (VIOS). Since the mksysb images are being backed up to the NIM server and the NIM server is being used to install and restore images, it doesn’t make sense to have the VIOS provide resources for the NIM server, especially if the plan is to recover the VIOS using NIM. The following process should be used to set up NIM:
Ensure sufficient resources are provided to the NIM server. Additionally, the NIM server requires some memory and CPU, as well as a good network and some disk space. Normally 2 GB to 4 GB memory and half of a core with two virtual processors (VPs) is more than enough. The NIM server must always be at the highest AIX level (including technology levels and service packs) that you plan to support. An AIX V6.1 technology level (TL) 02, service pack (SP) 1 NIM server can support LPARs at that level or earlier versions, but it has to be at the highest level. So, an important part of any maintenance plan is to ensure the NIM server is always updated first. In terms of disk space, I normally set up the server with some disk in its own volume group called nimvg. In that volume group I create a journal file system (JFS2) called /nim and that’s where I create all of the NIM resources.
A NIM environment consists of a master (which is the NIM server itself) and many client instances (our LPARs or servers). The NIM master owns and provides the resources necessary for the clients to be serviced. These resources can consist of mksysbs, shared product object trees (SPOTs), licensed program product (lpp) sources, bundles of software or fixes and so on. See “NIM Resources” for a description of these resources. All NIM operations on clients will require one or more of these resources. The master stores information about NIM and its setup in its own NIM database–which needs to be backed up regularly–and it stores the resources in ordinary AIX file systems. These file systems are made available to NFS clients.
Search our new 2013 Buyer's Guide.
Web Exclusive | Understand your options for 12X PCIe I/O drawers
E-Newsletter | PowerHA SystemMirror 7.1 introduces a robust CLI utility
Web Exclusive | AEM controls power flow and cooling distribution