Making Sense of SEA

Boiling down complex information technology (IT) topics so they’re understandable to the masses can be a difficult task. By its very definition, IT is a wildly technical field that’s full of acronyms and jargon and all sorts of language that makes perfect sense only to IT administrators who face flickering monitors for seemingly endless hours every day.

Take, for example, Shared Ethernet Adapters (SEAs). Most people outside of the IT field don’t know and don’t care what an SEA even is. However, as an IT component, an SEA is an important cost saving and space saving alternative to physical Ethernet adapter devices.

An SEA is a feature that’s available with a Power Virtual Machine (PowerVM), which requires an explanation by itself: IBM provides a powerful line of Power Systems business servers that are driven by IBM’s proprietary POWER microprocesssors. The Power Systems serve as the backbone for thousands of businesses ranging from small, to medium-sized to enterprise-level entities. Power Systems support a wide range of operating systems, including IBM i and AIX, although they also support many Linux variants.

Built into the Power Systems architecture is the capability to virtually partition a server so it can essentially perform as multiple servers that are all contained within a single physical server platform. This logical partition (LPAR) capability is an incredibly powerful tool for consolidating application workloads and reducing datacenter complexity. By extension, IBM’s PowerVM capability considerably boosts LPAR usefulness and capacity.

SEA is a component of PowerVM that provides a virtual connection between a physical Ethernet adapter to one or more virtual Ethernet adapters residing within local client LPARs. An SEA essentially acts like a physical Ethernet adapter without actually requiring a physical footprint, thereby reducing the need for actual datacenter space while simultaneously decreasing operational costs and energy usage.

In addition to reducing the overall datacenter IT footprint, utilizing virtual SEAs frees up slots, I/O drawers and reduces the need for the complex spaghetti of wires and cabling that can be a nightmare for IT administrators trying to make sense of it all.

SEAs can be utilized in a variety of configurations that are optimized to serve specific business requirements and offer the necessary redundancy and failover capacities that are increasingly required in today’s highly demanding IT datacenter environments.

For more detailed information about SEAs and why they’re important for your IT infrastructure, read this associated white paper, which breaks down and explains such SEA configurations as SEA Network Interface Backup (SEA-NIB), SEA High Availability (SEA-HA) and SEA-HA Load Sharing.

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