If you're working with PowerVM but haven't kept up with the changes, or if you're new to virtualization, then the updated Redbook, "PowerVM Virtualization on IBM System p: Introduction and Configuration" (4th edition), should be required reading. It serves as everything from an introduction to virtualization to a cookbook for setting up dual VIO servers for redundancy. Much of this post quotes directly from the Redbook, as I don't think I can say it any better than the authors have.
From the abstract:
"This IBM Redbook provides an introduction to PowerVM virtualization technologies on IBM System p servers. The Advanced POWER Virtualization features and partitioning and virtualization capabilities of IBM Systems based on the Power Architecture have been renamed to PowerVM.
"PowerVM is a combination of hardware, firmware and software that provides CPU, network and disk virtualization. The main virtualization technologies are:
* POWER5 and POWER6 hardware
* POWER Hypervisor
* Virtual I/O Server
"Though the PowerVM brand includes partitioning, software Linux emulation, management software and other offerings, this publication focuses on the virtualization technologies that are part of the PowerVM Standard and Enterprise editions.
"This publication is also designed to be an introduction guide for system administrators, providing instructions for:
* Configuration and creation of partitions and resources on the HMC
* Installation and configuration of the Virtual I/O Server
* Creation and installation of virtualized partitions
"While discussion in this publication is focused on IBM System p hardware and AIX, the basic concepts can be extended to the i5/OS and Linux operating systems as well as the IBM System i hardware.
"This edition has been updated with the new features available with the IBM POWER6 hardware and firmware."
And, from the introduction:
"The first edition of this publication was published over three years ago. Since then the number of customers using Advanced POWER Virtualization (currently named PowerVM) editions on IBM System p servers has grown rapidly. Customers use PowerVM in a variety of environments including business-critical production systems, development, and business continuity. This fourth edition includes best practices learned over the past years to build on the foundation work of the previous versions of the Redbook.
"This publication targets customers new to virtualization as well as more experienced virtualization professionals. The publication is split into four chapters, each with a different target audience in mind.
"Chapter one is a high-level introduction for those wanting a quick overview of the technology.
"Chapter two is a slightly more in-depth discussion of the technology aimed more
at the estate- or project-architect for deployments.
"Chapters three and four are aimed at professionals who are deploying the technology. Chapter three works through a simple scenario and Chapter four introduces the more advanced topics such as VLANs, Multiple Shared Processor Pools and Linux. Additionally it will introduce the techniques that can be used to provide the periods of continuous availability required in production systems."
Be sure to look for the shaded sections throughout the book, which include different sections labeled Important, Note, and Tip. Reading and understanding these will save you headaches when deploying your machines. For example, take a look at this from the SEA section:
"Note: A Shared Ethernet Adapter does not need to have IP configured to be able to perform the Ethernet bridging functionality. It is very convenient to configure IP on the Virtual I/O Server. This is because the Virtual I/O Server can then be reached by TCP/IP, for example, to perform dynamic LPAR operations or to enable remote login. This can be done either by configuring an IP address directly on the SEA device, but it can also be defined on an additional virtual Ethernet adapter in the Virtual I/O Server carrying the IP address. This leaves the SEA without the IP address, allowing for maintenance on the SEA without losing IP connectivity if SEA failover has been configured. Neither has a remarkable impact on Ethernet performance."
With this Redbook and a test environment, it wouldn't take long to better understand the topics presented.