Some major changes have been introduced for the latest version of IBM's AIX operating system, which will include a more complete virtualisation offering. The company has broken with tradition by announcing a public beta of the product, version 6, which is now available for download.
A major change is the introduction of "workload partitions", which allow IT managers to set up multiple partitions without the need to necessarily install the entire operating system.
"Many of our current AIX clients are excited about and will use the open beta to gain early experience with the new features provided by AIX 6, speeding their time-to-value after general availability in November," said IBM's Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for System p. "Combined with our try-and-buy programme for System p servers, the open beta will help accelerate the adoption of AIX 6 with new clients."
Other new features include Live Application Mobility, a way to relocate running workload partitions between servers without restarting the application, causing minimal disruption for end users. This is a major change for IBM that sees it bringing in features that users already expect from virtualised software, such as VMware's offerings.
Role-based access control, a security enhancement that helps administrators grant authorisation, is another feature that is new for AIX 6. But IBM says this feature is not ready for release and so it will not be in the beta.
IBM maintains that AIX 6 has been designed for compatibility with earlier versions of the software, but there are exceptions.
Another new feature is the ability to run Linux applications natively on the operating system, but users must use IBM's Advanced Power Virtualization software to do that. Users can also run Suse Linux Enterprise or Red Hat Enterprise Linux integrated with AIX applications on the same physical System p server.