Friday Feb 13, 2015

How to Build a Software Defined Network with Oracle Solaris 11





Before software engineers got so freakin' smart, we used to pay a special type of sysadmin to fiddle with the cables and switches at the back of our racks. They were mean, they were hunch-backed, and their fingers were stained with nicotine.

Those were the good old days. Today, network administrators wash their clothes and and sit at desks. And they use something called "software defined networking." I looked it up in the Urban Dictionary, but there was no listing for it. Which is just as well because if you ask me ...

Software Defined Networking = voodoo magic






A Little Bit About Software Defined Networking

Software Defined Networking is the equivalent of doing your homework the week before it's due. I mean, who does that? Well, the Solaris engineers at Oracle do, for starters. Talk about annoying! They started this trend back in the early days of Oracle Solaris 11. Instead of visiting Rufus in the basement server room, they designed this infrastructure that makes it possible for them to put dibs on networking resources from the comfort of the local Starbucks.

In other words, instead of Rufus yanking cables out of one box and hooking them up to another, you can simply change the cable routing by keyboard, so to speak. And assign them to virtual compute nodes. And configure all kinds of aspects about each network, including Service Level Agreements, an implement of Trotskyist-Leninist Totalitarianism if there ever was one. All without waking Rufus.

Orgad Kimchi, our fearless explorer of real-world Solaris, horsed around with not only the software defined networking capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11, but its latest features, which, in his words provide "greater application agility without the added overhead of expensive network hardware." The SDN features in Oracle Solaris 11.2 now:

  • Enable application-driven, multitenant cloud virtual networking across a completely distributed set of systems
  • Allow network service-level agreements (SLAs) at the application level
  • Provide cloud-readiness, thanks to the OpenStack distribution include in Oracle Solaris 11
  • Integrate tightly with Oracle Solaris Zones.

Tech Article: How to Build a Software Defined Network Using Elastic Virtual Switches

In Oracle Solaris 11.2

Orgad starts by walking you through the steps to set up SSH authentication and the Elastic Virtual Switch controller. Then he shows you how to configure both compute nodes, the four Solaris zones, and their virtual networks. He wraps up by showing you how to test the entire configuration to make sure it's working the way you want. Orgad writes from real-world experience, so you can trust his recommendations.



About the Photographs

I snapped the picture of the lamp at Stovepipe Wells, and the picture of Linda Lu, my 2008 Harley Davidson Softail Custom, while riding through Death Valley, California in the Spring of 2014. To get a better feel for the strange vastness of Death Valley, click on the image below to go to Wordpress, then click on the Wordpress image to enlarge it.



- Rick

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Wednesday Jun 11, 2014

Troubleshooting Your Network with Oracle Linux

Are you afraid of network problems? I was. Whenever somebody said "it's probably the network," I went to lunch. And hoped that it was fixed by the time I got back. Turns out it wasn't that hard to do a little basic troubleshooting

Tech Article: Troubleshooting Your Network with Oracle Linux

by Robert Chase

You're no doubt already familiar with ping. Even I knew how to use ping. Turns out there's another command that can show you not just whether a system can respond over the network, but the path the packets to that system take. Our blogging platform won't allow me to write the name down, but I can tell you that if you replace the x in this word with an e, you'll have the right command:

tracxroute

Once you get used to those, you can venture into the realms of mtr, nmap, and netcap.

Robert Chase explains how each one can help you troubleshoot the network, and provides examples for how to use them. Robert is not only a solid writer, he is also a brilliant motorcyclist and rides an MV Augusta F4 750.

About the Photograph

Photo of flowers in San Simeon, California, taken by Rick Ramsey on a ride home from the Sun Reunion in May 2014.

- Rick
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Thursday Nov 07, 2013

Oracle VM Deep Dives

"With IT staff now tasked to deliver on-demand services, datacenter virtualization requirements have gone beyond simple consolidation and cost reduction. Simply provisioning and delivering an operating environment falls short. IT organizations must rapidly deliver services, such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS). Virtualization solutions need to be application-driven and enable:"
  • "Easier deployment and management of business critical applications"
  • "Rapid and automated provisioning of the entire application stack inside the virtual machine"
  • "Integrated management of the complete stack including the VM and the applications running inside the VM."
Application Driven Virtualization, an Oracle white paper

That was published in August of 2011. The new release of Oracle VM Server delivers significant virtual networking performance improvements, among other things. If you're not sure how virtual networks work or how to use them, these two articles by Greg King and friends might help.

Looking Under the Hood at Virtual Networking

by Greg King

Oracle VM Server for x86 lets you create logical networks out of physical Ethernet ports, bonded ports, VLAN segments, virtual MAC addresses (VNICs), and network channels. You can then assign channels (or "roles") to each logical network so that it handles the type of traffic you want it to.

Greg King explains how you go about doing this, and how Oracle VM Server for x86 implements the network infrastructure you configured. He also describes how the VM interacts with paravirtualized guest operating systems, hardware virtualized operating systems, and VLANs.

Finally, he provides an example that shows you how it all looks from the VM Manager view, the logical view, and the command line view of Oracle VM Server for x86.

Fundamental Concepts of VLAN Networks

by Greg King and Don Smerker

Oracle VM Server for x86 supports a wide range of options in network design, varying in complexity from a single network to configurations that include network bonds, VLANS, bridges, and multiple networks connecting the Oracle VM servers and guests. You can create separate networks to isolate traffic, or you can configure a single network for multiple roles. Network design depends on many factors, including the number and type of network interfaces, reliability and performance goals, the number of Oracle VM servers and guests, and the anticipated workload.

The Oracle VM Manager GUI presents four different ways to create an Oracle VM network:

  • Bonds and ports
  • VLANs
  • Both bond/ports and VLANS
  • A local network

This article focuses the second option, designing a complex Oracle VM network infrastructure using only VLANs, and it steps through the concepts needed to create a robust network infrastructure for your Oracle VM servers and guests.

More Resources

photo of K1200S copyright by Rick Ramsey

-Rick

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Tuesday Feb 21, 2012

How I Explained Network Virtualization to Bikers

Back when we first launched Oracle Solaris Express, I stumbled upon a couple hundred bikers who were building a bonfire in the woods with the timber from an old cabin, a dozen cans of gasoline, and a couple of Honda Priuses. To avoid a beating, I convinced them to let me explain how virtual networks work. They set down their gasoline and I rescued some upholstery from the fire.

In the good old days, I explained, a proper biker had only one bike, a hardtail Knucklehead with a kick-starter, 5" over forks, and apes with purty leather tassels fabricated from the remnants of a favorite biker momma's chaps. And one leather jacket. Well worn. Naturally, that proper biker wanted to go to many rallies. But because he only had one bike, he could only go to one rally at a time. And he wore the same jacket to each rally. I suggested they call that favorite leather jacket Solaris, and that hardtail knucklehead a NIC.

"Nick," they asked. "Who's Nick?"

"Well, N-I-C," I explained. "It's short for Network Interface Card."

That made them a little restless, but I quickly added that as a result of the one-jacket, one-bike rule, life was good, pipes were loud, and America ruled the world.

They liked that. I got several pats on the back.

Fast forward 50, maybe 60 years, I explained while drawing the diagram above, and now we call ourselves motorcyclists. We have multiple bikes. And they are all EPA-compliant. And in keeping with the sartorial splendor of the court of Louix the XIV, we have one outfit for each bike. I asked them to pretend that each outfit was a zone, and each motorcycle was a virtual NIC, or VNIC. They got restless at the mention of Nick again, particularly after I brought up France, but I held up a well-manicured hand so they would allow me to elaborate. When modern motorcyclists like me want to go to Sturgis, I explained, we get into our Sturgis zone (a 5-day shadow, leather chaps, and obligatory bandana), and throw a leg over our Sturgis VNIC (a blinged-out CVO Harley Davidson 110" Ultra Classic with the dual-tone paint job). When we want to go to Americade, we slip into our Americade zone (a clean shave, a heated vest, and a reflective yellow Aerostich waterproof suit with 10 large pockets), and hop onto our Americade VNIC (a BMW K1200LT with heated seats, cup holder, and GPS). And so on. One outfit for each motorcycle, one zone for each vnic.

That's as far as I got. They gave me a beating and tossed me, my Vespa, and my modster jacket into the lake.

I decided to get some help.

Nicolas Droux, who was part of the engineering team that developed network virtualization (project Crossbow), agreed to explain all this to me. After assuring me that he was not a biker, we got on the phone. And we turned our phone conversation into a nifty podcast.

Podcast: Why and How to Use Network Virtualization

This podcast is easier to absorb if you listen to it in two parts, each about 15 minutes long.

In the first half, Nicolas explains how the process of managing network traffic for multiple Solaris zones across a single Network Interface Card (NIC) naturally led to the development of virtual NICs. And then to the network-in-a-box concept, which allowed you for the first time to create complete network topologies and run them within a single host to experiment, simulate, or test.

In the second half, Nicolas provides more details about combining zones and VNICS to create a test environment. He explains how you can create a zone to function as a virtual network router, for instance, or a virtual load balancer. By isolating these network functions into zones, you can test how your application performs with different settings, and use DTrace to follow the application calls as they are routed through your virtual network. Once you have the optimum settings for the network and the application, you can deploy it in your data center.

Here are some more resources to help you understand network virtualization:

- Rick Ramsey

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