Version 6, Release 1 (V6R1) will be the first available on a Power6 blade, as well as the first System i operating system available on that computing platform. Scott Handy, an IBM marketing vice president, said i5/OS will be supported first on the BladeCenter H platform and then on BladeCenter S this summer. He didn't specify why BladeCenter H would be first other than to say it was a question of testing and timing.
Wayne Kernochan, a senior IT analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., said that while he's not sure of the specific benefits of moving to i5/OS, users may make the switch to make inroads toward virtualization or just for curiosity's sake.
"I might put i5/OS on a blade to virtualize my i5 applications I currently have, or it could just be 'What will happen if I move i5/OS to the blade?'"
The i5/OS V6R1 follows V5R4, which was released two years ago. IBM has previewed the new version for some time, and here are some of the new features:
- On Power6, an i5/OS partition can host the storage of another i5/OS partition, which can help in test-and-development environments.
- i5/OS V6R1 provides support for shared processor pools that can cap the number of processors a partition can use.
- The new version includes encryption backups to tape or virtual tape as well as encryption of data stored on disk.
- V6R1 has a new Web-based interface for managing i5/OS that includes more than 300 operating system management tasks.
- The new version includes support for BladeCenter servers.
- And V6R1 includes improved Java and WebSphere performance compared with previous versions of i5/OS.
The new version of the operating system also supports attachment of IBM storage devices, which along with virtualized storage, will "help [System i] customers move to a [storage area network]-based storage," according to Handy.
Kernochan said another notable feature of i5/OS V6R1 was its newfound functionality with the Common Information Model (CIM), a systems management standard published by Distributed Management Task Force Inc., or DMTF.
"The fact that [IBM was] along the road to implementing CIM … that's a general trend that I've seen across platforms," he said. "That will really help to put i5 as a fully integrated partner enterprise-wide."