One of the biggest challenges IBM i (and certain AIX) customers have to deal with is software licensing. The licensing model, adopted by many solutions based on IBM’s Power platform, is steeped in legacy.
You see, back in the day, independent software vendors (ISVs) needed to protect their software from copying and unlicensed use. Before the proliferation of the Internet, there were few effective ways to track software usage.
The most common method to ensure that their software is paid for and used legally is to lock the functionality of the software behind the availability of license keys. In the Power world, most license keys are unique and tied to specific properties of the hardware that it is supposed to run on. In most cases, license keys are bound to the hardware serial number. In some cases where virtualization is used, license keys are also bound to the logical partition (LPAR) ID, thus ensuring that the software can only be run on that specific machine and for that specific workload.
This aging method works well in an on-premises world, but it is almost impossible to implement in the world of the cloud. Cloud platforms do an excellent job at managing resources to ensure availability and performance for their customers, but because everything is virtualized, there is no guarantee that your LPAR will land on the same host with the same LPAR ID. The LPAR could land on a different host every time it’s started, which would require customers to relicense their software.
Skytap’s solution to this is what the industry calls VM pinning, which is the ability for the customer to specify that a specific Power LPAR is pinned to a specific host and can only work on that host, to make sure your licensed software always uses the same host serial number and LPAR ID.
Skytap’s customers can enable this option from the Hardware page in the Skytap UI.
When VM pinning is enabled for the first time, the LPAR is powered off and isn’t yet assigned to a host.
When an LPAR is started for the first time, Skytap assigns that LPAR to a host, and records both the host serial number and LPAR ID to ensure that every time the LPAR is turned off and back on again, it always runs on the same host with the same LPAR ID.
VM pinning reserves the resources that the LPAR requires on that host to guarantee that they’re available even when the LPAR is powered off. Customers with pinned LPARs will continue to be billed for those resources, regardless of the run-state of the pinned LPARs.
Customers can quickly find pinned LPARs with the VM pinned to host filter in the environment list view, or just noting which LPARs have the “pin” icon in the Environments page.
Find out more about VM pinning on Skytap here: Skytap Help – VM Pinning
See the feature in action here: VM Host Pinning Demo