Auld Lang Syne – IBM Systems Director, AIX 6 withdrawn

Turn the page - Director

IBM officially withdrew a number of products today including virtually all of the IBM Systems Director product line. This is a bittersweet end to a decades-long cross-platform management vision.

Included in the withdrawal announcement are products such as IBM Systems Director, Active Energy Manager, VMControl, Network Control, Storage Control, AIX Workload Partitions Manager, and Flex Systems Manager.

IBM Systems Director

IBM Systems Director started as a hardware management tool called Netfinity Director back in the halcyon “” days of the late 1990s. It started evolving into a more robust systems management platform as the IBM Universal Management Services in 1999, and eventually grew to be a cross IBM platform systems management platform, IBM Systems Director, in 2007.

Ultimately, the “Cloud” killed Systems Director. The concept of a proprietary, all in one, management platform delivered by a single vendor simply did not work in an environment where IT resources are spread between in-house systems of record and systems of engagement that might be hosted by different cloud providers.

OpenStack, a new management approach that leveraged a community of contributors, is much more suitable to managing cloud environments than any proprietary approach by a single vendor. The rapid success of PowerVC is in part attributable to the functionality of its OpenStack roots. OpenStack is rapidly evolving thanks to its huge open source community.

Love it or hate it, the withdrawal of IBM Systems Director marks the end of an era.

IBM will continue to support some Director products for several more years, but the end is in sight.

So long, AIX 6


IBM also formally withdrew AIX 6 from marketing effective April 2016 and from standard support effective April 2017.

I have a special relationship to AIX 6 since it was the first AIX release that I managed from concept to introduction. AIX 6 had many firsts: It was the first release to have an open beta; it included many new capabilities for security and reliability; and a new virtualization technology, Workload Partitions. Even the name the name was unique; known as ”AIX 5.4” for much of its development, I rebranded it to “AIX 6” to recognize the tremendous amount of innovation included in that release.

Although the AIX 6 product has been withdrawn, the innovations delivered in AIX 6 formed the foundation for AIX 7 and subsequent releases.

Other Power Software withdrawn

In addition to Systems Director and AIX 6, there are other older products that were withdrawn including: FastConnect V3.2, AIX Link/X25 V2.1, Performance Toolbox V3.1, CSM V1, and Parallel Environment for AIX V5.2

These products had been functionally stabilized years ago and had few active users.

Software lifecycle

It is always more fun to introduce new products than it is to withdraw old ones. The reality is that eventually you have to throw in the towel and withdraw old products so that you can redeploy the development resources to build new products.

See the official announcement letter for a complete list of the withdrawn products.

P.S. For those you concerned about AIX EE 7.1 withdrawal–understand that IBM rules require that products can only be withdrawn in September or April. Announcements typically happen in the fourth quarter (hint, hint) and second quarter.

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PowerVC V1.2.3 Fixpack 2 is here

PowerVC V1.2.3 Fixpack 2 is now available for download from Fix Central.

In addition to bug fixes, Fixpack 2 includes two enhancements:

  • Support for PowerVC Multiple Shared Processor Pools
  • Increase the size of data volumes from the PowerVC graphical user interface


Many IBM PowerVM clients use multiple (aka “logical”) processor pools to control the amount of capacity available to middleware applications to manage software license costs. This PowerVM capability allows automatic movement of processing capacity between LPARs/VMs while keeping a hard limit on the total capacity available to the application.

With PowerVC Fixpack 2, administrators can specify that a VM is deployed to a specific shared processor pool other than the PowerVM default pool (Pool 0).

Fixpack 2 also adds support for clients to increase the size of data volumes in the PowerVC graphical user interface. This capability was previously only available through PowerVC programming APIs.


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What’s new in PowerVC Standard Edition Version 1.2.3


The first PowerVC release in 2015 includes new capabilities for more sophisticated management of enterprise Power environments. It includes new features for managing groups of servers, improved automated placement of virtual machines, enhanced storage support and the capability to restart VMs that were on a failed server.

Based on the “Kilo” OpenStack release, the planned general availability for PowerVC V1.2.3 is June 12, 2015.

Enhanced storage support

The latest version PowerVC has a number of enhancements to give you more flexibility to configure and manage storage.

Multiple disk capture/deploy

You can now capture and deploy multiple volumes with PowerVC. For example, you could capture a boot disk, and then deploy the boot disk with data volumes from VM2 and VM3. You can capture boot and data volumes separately and deploy them together. Volumes do not have to reside on the same storage devices and PowerVC can discover and import multiple volumes when importing existing VMs.


Multiple disk capture and deploy

Multiple disk capture and deploy

Share storage volumes between VMs

You can configure PowerVC to share a storage volume between two virtual machines to support high availability solutions that require shared disks.

SVC Mirroring

PowerVC now supports synchronous mirroring of SAN Volume Controller (SVC) volumes. You must define two storage pools in your SVC environment prior to creation of the new volume. You can use the SVC management console to add mirrors to existing SVC volumes.

IBM SDDPCM and EMC PowerPath in VIOS

PowerVC supports the use of IBM SDDPCM and EMC PowerPath multipathing software in the PowerVM Virtual I/O Server. Each VIOS can only use a single type of multipathing software.

Description field for captured VM volumes

You can now add a description to each captured storage volume. Clients used the PowerVC Request for Enhancement tool at to request this feature.

Description field

Description field

New managed clients supported (PowerVM)

PowerVC now supports new, little endian distributions of Linux under PowerVM on POWER8 processor-based systems. Please see the PowerVM announcement for additional requirements such as firmware level and patches.

  • RHEL 7.1 (LE)
  • SLES 12 (LE)
  • Ubuntu V15.04 (LE)

RHEL 7.1 for PowerVC management server

The PowerVC 1.2.3 management server now requires Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 7.1. The move from RHEL 6 was required due to the Red Hat lifecycle. The PowerVC management server can run on X86 based systems or on big endian or little endian editions of RHEL 7.1 on Power Systems.

Host groups

Collections of physical hosts can be grouped together to focus management operations such as deployment on a subset of the hosts managed by PowerVC. Each group can have a unique placement policy like packing or striping.

PowerVC Host Groups

Host Groups

Advanced placement policies

The scheduler component of PowerVC now supports more sophisticated automated placement of VMs during initial placement and during relocation in addition to the “Packing” and “Striping” previously available. The PowerVC scheduler now considers the different amount of processing and memory capacity provided by different models of Power Systems servers.

CPU Balance placement

Using the CPU Balance option places VMs on the physical host with the largest amount of free CPU capacity.

Memory Balance placement

Using the Memory Balance option places VMs on the host with largest amount of free memory capacity.

CPU Usage placement

Using the CPU Usage option places VMs on the host with the lowest historical CPU usage. The usage is the average CPU usage measured every minute over the last 15 minutes.

PowerVC Advanced Placement Policies

Advanced Placement Policies

Virtual machine affinity and anti-affinity

Sometimes you must consider the relationship between virtual machines when deploying or relocating VMs.


VMs with Affinity are deployed to the same physical host. For example, an application server VM and a web front end VM are placed on the same host to minimize communications latency.


VMs with Anti-affinity are deployed to different physical hosts. This eliminates the physical host as a single point of failure for the application.

Virtual Machine Affinity and Anti-affinity

Virtual Machine Affinity and Anti-affinity

Redundant HMC support

PowerVC now supports redundant Power Hardware Management Consoles (HMC) to avoid a single point of failure when managing PowerVM environments. The PowerVC administrator must initiate the switchover between the redundant HMCs.

Cloud-init support for AIX 6 & AIX 7 clients

PowerVC worked with the AIX engineering team to deliver cloud-init image activation for AIX VMs. Image activation is the process that automatically runs when a new VM image is deployed to customize the VM instance. For example, you can use it to set the hostname, networking configuration, and SSH keys.

Cloud-init has become the de facto standard for activation in OpenStack. It offers more capability than the VSAE activation engine that previously was the only choice for AIX activation. The AIX team will deliver the cloud-init open source software via the AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications web page at

Administrator Initiated Remote VM Restart (POWER8 only)

PowerVC V1.2.3 supports the simplified remote restart of VMs on POWER8 processor-based systems. Remote VM Restart allows VMs running on a host which unexpectedly fails to restart on hosts within the host group. The PowerVC administrator must initiate restart of VMs on a failed host.

Remote Restart

Remote Restart

PowerVC Express Edition withdrawn

PowerVC Express Edition and PowerVC Base Edition were withdrawn from marketing in April 2015.

These two editions were primarily stepping-stones to PowerVC Standard Edition. PowerVC Express Edition only worked with Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) managed systems. PowerVC Base Edition was an early edition of PowerVC that was only available in China.

While both of these editions were important to the evolution of PowerVC Standard Edition, they are not relevant to our core enterprise customers, who use the Hardware Management Console (HMC) or PowerKVM to manage virtualized Power servers.

IBM plans to continue offering and enhancing PowerVC Standard Edition.

Scaling to 30 servers and 3000 VMs

PowerVC continues to improve the number of hosts and number of virtual machines it can manage.

Link to the official announcement letter


The PowerVC engineering team has delivered a lot of new functionality in this release of PowerVC. Many of these features are the result of feedback and formal requests from clients like you. The PowerVC team welcomes your feedback and participation on our LinkedIn group, on our Facebook page and on DeveloperWorks

Look for new articles on PowerVC 1.2.3 features in these groups and on our YouTube channel in the coming weeks.


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Summary of PowerVC Standard Edition security fixes published March 12, 2015

A number of security exposure and corresponding fixes were published March 12, 2015 for PowerVC Standard Edition.

For your convenience, here is a list of the issues and links to related information.

    • IBM PowerVC Could Allow a Local Attacker to Read a Valid Access Token (CVE-2015-0136)IBM PowerVC could allow a local attacker to read a valid access token. The powervc-iso-import command internally calls another command to which it passes a valid access token as a command line argument. This token may be seen in the process table. Only PowerVC Express installations managing IVM and PowerVC Standard installations managing PowerKVM are affected.

The best way to stay informed of important PowerVC fixes is to subscribe via IBM My Notifications

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What’s ahead for PowerVC in 2015


As we move into 2015, we are once again planning on two major releases of PowerVC. This will allow us to quickly respond to new customer requirements and take advantage of the capabilities in the OpenStack releases “Kilo” and “M”.

Some of the enhancements we are considering for PowerVC in 2015 include:

  • Additional storage device support (dependent on community contributions by storage vendors)
  • Multi-disk image capture and deploy
  • Enhanced storage management such as resizing volumes, volume sharing and mirroring
  • Increasing management scalability
  • Improved scheduling including VM affinity/anti-affinity, CPU and memory capacity consideration
  • Networking enhancements
  • Support for multiple shared processor pools
  • Physical host groups to allow segregation of workloads to specific servers
  • Redundent HMC support
  • Dynamic resource rebalancing
  • Exploitation of Power Systems Capacity on Demand
  • Remote restart of Virtual Machines
  • Security and logging enhancements
  • Additional client OS support
  • Customer requested features
  • Exploitation of new PowerVM, PowerKVM and Power Systems hardware capabilities

As always, these plans reflect goals and intentions and are subject to change, but think that you can see that we have a lot of good stuff coming in PowerVC in 2015.

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PowerVC Standard Edition Version 1.2.2


PowerVC Standard Edition Version 1.2.2 is a significant update that significantly expands the storage support including Cisco SAN, IBM XIV and EMC storage devices. Based on the Juno release of OpenStack, PowerVC 1.2.2 planned general availability is December 12, 2014.

New storage support for PowerVM based systems

  • Cisco SAN fabric
  • IBM XIV storage devices
  • EMC VMAX storage devices
  • EMC VNX storage devices
  • EMC PowerPath client support
  • Classic vSCSI (SAN volume backed only, no local disks)

Limited support for storage devices and SAN fabrics has been one of the most significant issues blocking widespread adoption of PowerVC. The PowerVC engineering team worked with IBM storage teams to deliver new support for XIV storage and classic (Non-Shared Storage Pools) VSCSI devices The PowerVC team worked with the OpenStack community to integrate block storage Cinder drivers for Cisco SAN fabric and two classes of EMC storage devices.

The PowerVC engineering team intends to continue working with the community to integrate support for additional storage devices over time but we believe that the new storage devices supported in this release will address many of our client’s storage requirements.

Restrictions and Considerations for new storage support

As in all discussions of resource support, there are conditions and restrictions that you should be aware of for the new storage devices supported. PowerVC relies on the storage vendor provided OpenStack Cinder drivers. The vendor controls the overall requirements and restrictions for the drivers they contribute to OpenStack.

Cisco SAN fabric

We tested with Cisco NX-OS 6.2

IBM XIV storage devices

Only XIV Gen3 devices are supported

vSCSI Classic

Already noted above, PowerVC only supports SAN backed disks (no local disks or LVM backed vSCSI devices. For vSCSI, the client must do the SAN zoning manually. PowerVC will allocate and manage the SAN LUNs automatically.


This support requires the use of an SMI-S provider which currently is only available on X86 platforms (See EMC web for full details). The PowerVC management server must have network connectivity to the server running the EMC SMI-S Solution Enabler server.


This support requires that the EMC Navisphere CLI be installed on the PowerVC management server. Since the Navisphere CLI is only available on X86 platform systems, the PowerVC management server must be installed on an X86 system.

EMC PowerPath

The initial release of PowerVC Standard Edition V1.2.2 will support the use of EMC PowerPath in the managed client VM/LPARs. PowerVC V1.2.2 does not currently support the use of PowerPath in the VIOS.

Enhanced storage support for PowerVM based systems

  • Export/Import virtual machine images between storage devices
  • Multiple I/O Group support for SAN Volume Controller (SVC)

PowerVC 1.2.2 also eliminates two previous storage limitations. Frist, you can now move captured VM images between storage devices (import/export). For example, you could capture a VM image on a V7000 and import it into a XIV storage device. Second, clients now can use multiple I/O groups when using SVC or V7000 storage.

New managed clients (PowerVM)

  • IBM i (Requires IBM i 7.1 TR7 or 7.2)
  • RHEL 7 (Included in PowerVC 1.2.1 Fixpack 2)

PowerVC can manage IBM i clients on PowerVM based systems. Support for RHEL 7 as a “manage to” client was previously added in Fixpack 2 in August 2014. One additional clarification for AIX managed client support: PowerVC supports all levels of AIX 6 and AIX 7 regardless of the AIX Technology Level.

New managed clients (PowerKVM)

  • SLES 12 (little endian)
  • Ubuntu V14 (little endian)

PowerVC supports management of new, little endian Linux distributions. This support is only available on Linux only, POWER8 processor based systems that use the PowerKVM hypervisor

While the new storage and clients support are the most interesting features of PowerVC V1.2.2 for many clients, there are also some interesting functional enhancements.

Functional enhancements

  • One-Click System Evacuation (aka Maintenance Mode)
  • Add/Remove Virtual network interface (VNIC) after the initial VM deployment
  • IP address pools
  • Expanded auditing
  • Third party supported OpenStack Drivers (Included in PowerVC 1.2.1 Fixpack 2)

The One-Click System Evacuation feature (also known as maintenance mode), allows an administrator to prepare for a planned outage by automatically relocating all virtual machines off of a physical server using a user specified placement policy. Alternatively, the administrator can put the physical server into maintenance mode to prevent the creation of new VMs on that physical server. This video demonstrates the One-Click System Evacuation capability:,

The add/remove VNIC capability allows administrator to add or remove network connections after deploying a virtual machine. Administrators sometimes must change the network configuration for virtual machines after they were deployed and this capability keeps PowerVC “in sync” with those changes.

The IP Pools feature allows the administrator to have PowerVC automatically assign the IP address for a new VM from a pool of eligible IP addresses as an alternative to specifying an individual IP address or relying on DHCP. This capability also allows administrators to reserve IP addresses within the pool to prevent PowerVC from using reserved addresses.

Auditing is now available for almost every PowerVC service including compute, network, storage, image, verification, and metering. (Keystone, the OpenStack identity service, does not yet support auditing). You can use auditing to identify which administrator took a particular action. See the powervc-audit command for more information.

Finally, as of PowerVC 1.2.1 Fixpack 2, administrators can register and use third-party supported OpenStack drivers for block storage that have not yet been tested or integrated by the PowerVC engineering team. Block storage support in OpenStack (aka Cinder) has been rapidly evolving; this capability makes it easier for clients who may wish to test new Cinder drivers. When using this capability, the OpenStack community provides all support for the drivers, not IBM.

As you can see, PowerVC Version 1.2.2 will address many clients’ requirement for additional storage support, especially for Cisco SAN fabrics. We expect this release of PowerVC allow many clients to start building Power Systems based clouds.

Full details in announcement letter at


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A How-To Guide to Cashless Transactions for Scout Units

The United States is rapidly becoming a cashless society with less than 30% of sales transactions involving cash. Your Scout unit can leverage smartphones and free card readers to accept credit and debit card payments.

Portable Card Readers Enable Cashless Fundraising

For years, the only way to accept credit or debit card payments required a rented credit card machine with a contractual commitment and hefty transaction fees. Recently, new transaction processing services have become available that avoid the expense and commitment of commercial transaction readers by leveraging the ubiquitous smartphones that many people carry.

These new services require no setup fees or commitment and allow almost anyone to accept credit or debit cards for a nominal percentage of the transaction. These services also allow you to manage cash and check payments. All of these services provide a free card reader that plugs into the headphone jack on your smartphone and apps for IOS or Android.

Several companies provide these services:

  • Square was the first of these services. Square charges 2.75% of each transaction
  • Paypal Here charges 2.7% of each transaction and also allows you to accept Mobile PayPal
  • Intuit GoPayment charges 2.75% per transaction but also has subscription plans that allow you to pay a monthly fee of $12.95 to get a lower rate of 1.75% per transaction. It also integrates with Intuit QuickBooks.

This is only a partial list. There are a number of other vendors jumping into this area so you might want to look around for the best deal. Payment plans and rates are subject to change, so be sure and check the vendor web site for the latest rates and plans.

Do not let the transaction percentage scare you off. Using any of these services is going to cost you a small percent of the sales, but the point of using these services is to make sales that you would otherwise lose.

For example, one of my Troop’s major fundraising events is Christmas tree sales. Traditionally we only accepted cash or checks, but started using Square on an exception basis in 2012. That first year, about one third of our sales were made using Square—sales that we might have lost if we could not accept credit cards. In 2013, about 70% of our sales were through Square.

How Do Cashless Transactions work?

Since my Scout Troop uses Square, my experience is with that particular service. I would expect that using one of the other providers would be similar.

  • During a transaction, the seller would plug the Square Reader into the smartphone headphone plug and start up the Square Register app.
  • You enter the transaction amount and then swipe the customer’s credit card using the reader.
  • The customer then signs the screen using their finger.
  • If the customer wants a receipt, you can have them enter their email address. In about 24 hours, the money, minus the transaction fee, is deposited to your bank account.

Getting Started with Square

There are only a few setup steps needed to accept payments via Square but it does take a few business days to get everything done. Do not wait until the last minute!

What you will need:

  1. An email address (for Square transactions and notices).
    • I used an account with automatic forwarding so that all Square emails are sent to me and to our unit finance chair. By default, Square will send an email for each transaction.
  2. A check for the Scout unit checking account for bank routing and account number information
    • I strongly recommend that you do not use your personal checking account
  3. A smartphone (iPhone, Android or iPad) with a data plan
    • See Square’s web site for supported devices
  4. Time to receive the Square reader in the mail and to validate the bank account
    • It took about four business days for the bank account to get validated and for deposits to start showing up
    • Square says that it should take about 7-10 days to receive the free Square reader from them. You can also purchase a Square reader from Target and other stores for $10 if you cannot wait.

 Setting Up Your Square Account

  1. Got to and click on “Get Started” Square_get_started
  2. Enter the email information and choose a non-trivial password
  3. Press “Create Account” square_create_account
  4. Enter the address where you want your free Square Card Reader to ship to. Click “Continue”
  5. Select your business type from the drop-down list. Enter your business and personal information. I choose the name “BSA Troop 413 Austin” because that is what will show up on the receipt. I also uploaded a logo with the Troop information on it. Click “Continue.”
  6. You will answer a few questions to verify your identity. When completed, click “Finish.”
  7. Now you will link your bank account to your Square account.  Click “Add Account”



Square will make a series of small deposits and matched withdrawals to validate that the new account is valid. This may take several business days.

  1. Confirm your mailing address to ensure your Square card reader arrives at the correct location. Click “Send my Reader.”
  2. After you have completed the basic registration, You can add a list of items to make it easy to perform the transactions. Click on “Items” at the top of the Square profile to add common transaction items.

For example, I set up a number of “Christmas Tree” items at several common price points.


You want to add each seller as an “Employee”

  1. Click on the “Employee” tab at the top and then click on the “Create Employee” button on the right.

square_create_employeeUsing the employee function to register several people to a single Square account has several benefits:

  • It allows each Scout/Scouter to sign into Square with their own userid/password
  • All funds go directly to the same account
  • You can keep track of how much each person is selling

I usually order several Square readers over the year so that we have several on hand for our big sales. Since almost everyone now has a smartphone that can run the Square application, it is easy for each person to individually collect each sale.

Square provides the capability to process refunds. As an extra security measure, I set up the account to require a PIN to process refunds.

  1. Click on “Employees” to set the PIN and select which tasks require a PIN.


A special note about tax reporting.

Square automatically file a IRS form 1099-K for all businesses that have more than $20,000 in gross sales and more than 200 transactions in a calendar year. Non-profit organizations are included. If you anticipate anticipate total sales of this level, you should insure that your Square account includes your Employer Identification Number (EIN).

  1. To enter your Tax EIN and other related info, go to


  1. Download the “Square Register” App for your phone.

Now all you have to do is wait for your free Square reader to arrive in the mail.

Using Square

  1. Plug the Square Reader into your headphone jack on your smartphone and start the “Register” app.
  2. Log into the app using the email address and password you used for your Square account in Step 2 above.
  3. You can now enter an amount for the transaction and a note.

If you set up Items in Step 9 above, you can press the center icon on the screen to bring up the Item list (right, below). If you have multiple price points for an item a secondary list will be shown (left)


  1. Click on an item to select it (or just enter the amount if you are not using pre-built Items)

In this example, I clicked on the “$100 Christmas Tree” item.

Note that the number of items is “1” and that the total is “$100”. The list of items stays up so you could add more items.


  1. Click on the “Charge $100” on the screen.
  2. The Register app will now give a choice of how to pay. Click on the Credit Card icon


  1. You should now be able to swipe credit or debit cards using the Square Reader.

Some people have more luck laying the phone flat when they swipe the card.

  1. Then the client signs with their finger.


  1. If the customer wants a receipt to be mailed or texted to them, you can do that next.

If not, you are done!

More than Just For Popcorn and Christmas Trees

These transaction-processing services have obvious uses during fundraising activities, but the fact that you can take payment from a credit card can also help parents pay for expensive items like Summer Camp or High Adventure trips. Instead of parents making multiple payments to the unit for these trips, the unit could swipe their credit card for the total amount; simplifying unit bookkeeping.

You could also considering using these services as a way to collect for Friends of Scouting by collecting contributions during the FOS presentation and later cutting a check for the total amount to the Council.

Square also provides reports on your sales that can help you target particular times or days where you expect the best sales.


Square and similar services allow Scout units to take advantage of the consumer trend away from cash payments. Not only is it more convenient for customers, but it also shows that Scouts are able to leverage the most recent technology.

Jay Kruemcke
BSA Troop 413 / Armadillo District / Capitol Area Council
April 2014

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