Documenting POWER9 With Visio Stencils

Power Systems Champion Alan Fulton explains the important role the documentation tool plays in organizations of all sizes

By Evelyn Hoover

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Do you groan when you think of the need to document your infrastructure? While you may know it’s important, you find the chore to be the one thing you keep moving to the bottom of your to-do list. Every shop needs it, but no one likes to actually handle the task. For those using POWER9 hardware, IBM has come to the rescue with Visio Stencils available in the VisioCafe.

“I’ve worked as a technology architect and engineer my entire career,” says Alan Fulton, technology architect for a financial services organization. “One of the most daunting tasks that nobody really likes to do but everyone has to do is documentation. We all like to like that we’re good at it, but we could always do better.

Fulton, an IBM Power Systems Champion, is a big fan of the stencils. “IBM has some incredibly robust, powerful machines. To be able to utilize them properly, they need to be engineered and architected in such a fashion to take the maximum advantage of all that they can do for us both in performance and resiliency,” says Fulton, who has been working on POWER hardware for 20-plus years. “So, using stencils or using a tool to document what we are going to start standing up in our data center is key.”

“IBM has some incredibly robust, powerful machines. To be able to utilize them properly, they need to be engineered and architected in such a fashion to take the maximum advantage of all that they can do for us both in performance and resiliency.”

Alan Fulton// Technology architect for a financial services organization

What the Visio Stencils Do
IBM provides stencils for the different versions of the Power Systems platform as well as some of the network infrastructure, SAN storage arrays and other features. This enables clients to design their infrastructure solutions across the data center and across the enterprise.

“I work with a lot of the bigger IBM systems, so this is expected to be able to document how these machines will be laid out, how they will be situated and how they will be cabled,” Fulton explains.

A Visio Stencil example showing a generic stencil for the Power Systems S924.

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So, for example, if an enterprise has a data center in the U.S. and another in Germany, anyone reviewing the documentation from the Visio stencils would be able to know that the physical server in the U.S. has a multiport card in a particular slot. The server in Germany uses the same slot of a different function.

Fulton, whose company has been using the IBM Visio Stencils since the POWER4 chip debuted in 2001, says this level of documentation is important for lights out data centers as well as ensuring that your data center can still be managed if something happens to the data center manager.

But the stencils aren’t just for the large Power Systems shops. Documentation is every bit as important for smaller shops—maybe even more so—as it is for larger organizations. The Visio stencils provide representation in case of a disaster or catastrophic failure, or for documentation and audit purposes.

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Document, Document
Many reasons exist to document your infrastructure with the Visio tool. The stencils are free and available to anyone to download. “IBM puts out some of the best iron, so we like to document the best stuff,” Fulton says.

More Resources on Twitter

Learn more about IBM Power Systems Champion Alan Fulton by following him on Twitter: @The_Iron_Monger.

Visio Café Stencils is also active on Twitter: @VisioCafe.

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