Thursday Mar 29, 2012

eSTEP: Virtualization@Oracle (Part 4: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers)

After the Oracle VM coverage in the previous two articles we will now cover the Operating System side by looking at the

Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers

Oracle Solaris Zones or also Linux Containers are not a separate product, but a technology, a feature of an Operating System. Both technologies are in principle based on the same technologies. They are a virtualization at the application level, so “above” the OS kernel. Compared to the Hypervisor based virtualization, we do not have such an additional software layer here. We have one OS kernel that is shared by many zones or containers.

To put it into perspective, let’s reuse the image from the first articles, where we show the positioning of Oracle Solaris Zones, which can roughly be compared to Linux Containers. The difference between both technologies is more at the implementation level and on the way it is integrated into the OS.



Let’s first dive more into detail with the

Oracle Solaris Zones

This Solaris feature at first showed up in Solaris Express and Sun Solaris 10 3/05 as Solaris Containers, but has always been called Solaris Zones. With Oracle Solaris 11 we now officially call it Oracle Solaris Zones. Zones are a virtualization technology that create a virtualization layer for applications. We could say a zone is a “sandbox” that provides a playground for an application. Those zones are called non-global zones and are isolated from each other, but all share one global zone. The global zone holds the Solaris kernel, the device drivers and the devices, the memory management system, the filesystem and in many cases the network stack.



So the global zone sees all physical resources and provides common access to these resources to the non-global zones.

The non-global zones appear to applications like separate Solaris installations.

Zones have their own filesystems, their own process namespace, security boundaries, and own network addresses. Based on requirements, zones can also have their own network stack with separated network properties. And yes there also is a separated administrative login (root) for every non-global zone, but still even as a privileged user there is no way to break-out/in from one non-global zone into a neighborhood non-global zone. But looking from the global zone, such a non-global zone is just a bunch of processes grouped together by a tag, called zoneid.

This type of virtualization is often called lightweight virtualization, because we have nearly no overhead in which we have to invest for the virtualization layer and the applications, running in the non-global zones. Therefore we get native I/O-performance from the OS. Thus zones are a perfect choice, if many applications need to be virtualized and high performance is a requirement.

Due to the fact, that all non-global zones share one global zone, all zones run the same level of OS software – with one exception. Branded zones run non-native application environments. With that, for Oracle Solaris 10 we have the special case of being able to create Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 Legacy Containers, providing Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 runtime environments, but still sharing the Solaris 10 kernel in the global zone. With Oracle Solaris 11 it is possible to create Solaris 10 Zones.

Within Oracle Solaris 11, zones have been much more integrated with the OS, compared to zones in Solaris 10. It’s no longer just an additional feature of the OS. Zones are well integrated into the whole lifecycle management process of the OS when it comes to (automatic) installation or updates of zones. A big step forward is, once again, the better integration of zones with more kernel security features, which enables more delegated administration of Zones. Better integration into ZFS, consistent use of boot environments, network virtualization features and the Solaris resource management are additional improvements, made to the zones in Oracle Solaris 11. Oracle Solaris Zones have always been very easy to setup on the command line and easy to use. If you want to use a Graphical Tool to configure Zones, you can use Oracle Enterprise Manager OpsCenter (which we will cover later on in this series).

Now while we have discussed Oracle Solaris Zones, what are:

Linux Containers (LXC)

Is this the same technology like zones or if not, how do they differ ?

First of all, compared to Oracle Solaris Zones, it’s really a new technology in Linux starting with kernel 2.6.27 and provides the resource management through control groups (also called userspace process containers) and resource isolation through namespaces. The LXC project page at http://lxc.sourceforge.net/ has a very good explanation of Linux Containers: “Linux Containers take a completely different approach than system virtualization technologies such as KVM and Xen, which started by booting separate virtual systems on emulated hardware and then attempted to lower their overhead via paravirtualization and related mechanisms. Instead of retrofitting efficiency onto full isolation, LXC started out with an efficient mechanism (existing Linux process management) and added isolation, resulting in a system virtualization mechanism as scalable and portable as chroot, capable of simultaneously supporting thousands of emulated systems on a single server while also providing lightweight virtualization options to routers and smart phones.”

So we are talking here about chroot-environments, that can be created on various isolation levels, but also share as isolated group of processes one Linux kernel.

Conclusion

Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers are offering a lightweight virtualized runtime environment for applications. Solaris Zones exist since Solaris 10 and are now highly integrated into Oracle Solaris 11. Linux Containers are available as BETA for Oracle Linux with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel only for testing and demonstration purposes.

With that we'd like to close this article on Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers and hope we've kept you eager to read the ones coming in the following newsletters.

Further Reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solaris_Zones

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris11/technologies/virtualization-306056.html?ssSourceSiteId=ocomen

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23824_01/html/821-1460/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_container

http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/linux/lxc-features-1405324.pdf


This series already had the following articles:

  • December 2011: Introduction to Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)
  • January 2012: Oracle VM Server for SPARC (Matthias Pfützner)
  • February 2012: Oracle VM Server for x86 (Matthias Pfützner)

The series will continue as follows (tentative):

  • April 2012: Resource Management as Enabling Technology for Virtualization
    (Detlef Drewanz)
  • May 2012: Network Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)
  • June 2012: Oracle VM VirtualBox (Detlef Drewanz)
  • July 2012: Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (Matthias Pfützner)
  • August 2012: OpsCenter as Management Tool for Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)

If you have questions, feel free to contact me at: Detlef Drewanz

Read more:

<<< Part 3: Oracle VM Server for x86 >>>> Part 5: Resource Management as Enabling Technology for Virtualization


Friday Feb 24, 2012

eSTEP: Virtualization@Oracle (Part 3: Oracle VM Server for x86)

After the SPARC virtualization coverage in January we will now cover the x86 side by looking at the

Oracle VM Server for x86

Oracle VM Server for x86 is a technology that’s been inside Oracle even before the Sun acquisition, and is a virtualization product based on the Xen hypervisor.

Just like its SPARC counterpart it is a thin Type-1 Hypervisor and performs Hardware Virtualization on a x86-based system and uses para-virtualization.

To put it into perspective, let’s reuse the image from the first article:



As we can see and has been mentioned above, there is a similar product called Oracle VM Server for SPARC, which was covered in the last episode. Some of the general remarks there also apply to Oracle VM Server for x86, so, even if you’re only interested in the x86-side of things, it’s a good idea to recheck that last episode.

To start with the description, I shamelessly copied the introduction section from the docs at: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E20065_01/doc.30/e18549/oraclevm.htm#CACJHBGJ which reads:

Oracle VM is a platform that provides a fully equipped environment with all the latest benefits of virtualization technology. Oracle VM enables you to deploy operating systems and application software within a supported virtualization environment. The components of Oracle VM are shown below:



  • Oracle VM Manager: Provides the command line interface or shell, as well as the graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI is an Application Development Framework (ADF) web application you use simply through your browser to manage Oracle VM Servers, virtual machines, and resources. Use Oracle VM Manager to:

    • Configure and manage Oracle VM Servers
    • Configure and manage networks
    • Configure and manage storage
    • Configure and manage resources such as virtual machine images, virtual machine templates, assemblies, and installation media
    • Create virtual machines from installation media, a virtual machine template, an assembly, or a virtual machine image
    • Manage virtual machines, including powering on and off, deleting, and live migrating
    • Import virtual machines created with Oracle VM or another solution for server virtualization


  • Oracle VM Server: A managed virtualization environment providing a lightweight, secure, server platform which runs virtual machines. At least one Oracle VM Server is required, but several are needed to take advantage of clustering. Oracle VM Server is based upon an updated version of the underlying Xen hypervisor technology, and includes Oracle VM Agent. It also includes a Linux kernel with support for a broad array of devices, file systems, and software RAID volume management. The Linux kernel is run as dom0 to manage one or more domU virtual machines, each of which could be Linux, Oracle Solaris, or Microsoft Windows.

Going back to the terminology and order used in the last episode, we still need to provide some information on the


Hypervisor

in use here. Xen started as a university project and its architecture is similar to the architecture of the logical domains on SPARC, with one important difference. On the SPARC side the hypervisor is part of the OBP, whereas on the x86-side the hypervisor is a separate software entity and needs to be installed as a complete system directly from CD/DVD onto the server. This is usually just a matter of a few minutes. Once that’s done, the virtualization server platform is available. After that we need to look at the


Management

side of things. Also unlike the OVM Server for SPARC approach here we need an additional management server called OVM Manager. Contrary to the way the server part is installed, the manager part is installed on top of an already installed operating system.

Both installation steps (Server and Manager) are described in detail in the documentation (link at end). Also the usage of OVM Manager is described there in detail.


Types of domains

In the last episode we had been describing different types of domains. Here, there is no such distinction, we’re only dealing with the dom0 (Control, Service and I/O Domain) and a domU (Guest Domain) (definitions see last episode).

The ease of use is even more simplified by additional tools like “OVM Templates” or “Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder”.


OVM Templates

OVM Templates are pre-installed and pre-configured ready-to-run images of diverse software stacks. These can also be downloaded (currently more than 90 such templates exist) directly from the same page were Oracle VM for x86 can be downloaded (link below). With this it gets real easy to setup and run for example a single Oracle Database server in less than 15 minutes. Download, import into OVM Manager, deploy and run.

Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder

In many cases single server environments aren’t enough, as multi-tier environments consist of many servers. So, the Oracle Virtual Assembly Builder is the tool to create such multi-virtual-server environments out of single systems, and allows such an assembly to be exported as one single building block and then be imported into OVM Manager. This then makes even the management of complex multi-tier environments very easy.

Things to consider

With features like Server Pools, virtual network switches and more, the setup and management of large virtualization environments gets complex. Therefore again here careful planning is needed. Specifically careful evaluation and TCO and/or ROI analysis is a good thing. Keep in mind, that over time the underlying infrastructure becomes more and more a commodity, therefore elements on higher levels become more and more important in the decision making progress and getting the “commodity” part from the same vendor supplying the higher level elements might become an advantage.

Benefits

  • Easy installation and setup

  • No licenses needed

  • OVM Manager included free of charge

  • Support included in Oracle HW system support or separately
    available for non-Oracle Hardware

  • Ease of use due to templates

  • Physical-to-virtual migration/conversion tools available

  • Up to 128 virtual CPUs per virtual machine

  • Up to 1TB RAM per virtual machine

  • Up to 160 CPUs per physical server

  • Up to 2 TB RAM per physical server

  • Up to 128 virtual machines per physical server

  • Cold, warm and hot (live) migration possible

  • Accepted as licensing-limit/boundary (Hard Partitioning) by Oracle

  • All Oracle software certified

  • Many different guest OSes supported

  • Para-virtualized drivers for Microsoft Windows included


Conclusion

Oracle VM for x86 offers a complete, easy-to-use and affordable environment for all server virtualization requirements.

With that we'd like to close this article on Oracle VM Server for x86 and hope we've kept you eager to read the ones coming in the following newsletters.

With that we'd like to close this article on Oracle VM Server for SPARC and hope we've kept you eager to read the ones coming in the following newsletters.


Further Reading

http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/virtualization/oraclevm/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xen

http://xen.org/

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/documentation/vm-096300.html

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E20065_01/doc.30/e18549/oraclevm.htm


Download

https://edelivery.oracle.com/linux

This series already had the following articles:

  • December 2011: Introduction to Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)
  • January 2012: Oracle VM Server for SPARC (Matthias Pfützner)

The series will continue as follows (tentative):

  • March 2012: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers (Detlef Drewanz)
  • April 2012: Resource Management as Enabling Technology for Virtualization
    (Detlef Drewanz)
  • May 2012: Network Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)
  • June 2012: Oracle VM VirtualBox (Detlef Drewanz)
  • July 2012: Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (Matthias Pfützner)
  • August 2012: OpsCenter as Management Tool for Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)

If you have questions, feel free to contact me: Matthias Pfützner

Read more:

<<< Part 2: Oracle VM Server for SPARC
>>> Part 4: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers

Saturday Jan 21, 2012

eSTEP: Virtualization@Oracle (Part 2: Oracle VM Server for SPARC)

After the long introductory article from December to our series on virtualization at Oracle (we assumed, that due to the Christmas break, you might have had a bit more time to read the article) we will now cover

Oracle VM Server for SPARC

Oracle VM Server for SPARC references the technology formerly known by its technical name “Logical Domains”.

It is a thin Type-1 Hypervisor and performs Hardware Virtualization on the T-Series systems and uses paravirtualization. As a result Oracle VM for SPARC provides a technology to run multiple Logical Domains on one System. Each domain runs its own Operating System and is independent from the other Logical Domains.

To put it into perspective, let’s reuse the image from the first article:

We can see, that there is a similar thing called Oracle VM Server for x86, which will be covered in the next episode. Some of the general remarks here will also apply to Oracle VM Server for x86, so, even if you’re only interested in the x86-side of things, it’s a good idea to stay with us for this episode.

In looking back at the definitions of a thin Type-1 hypervisor, it’s clear, that there needs to be some explanation here, on how the management and setup of a so-called Logical Domain can be achieved. We know, that we need an external entity to manage the hypervisor, as that is one of the characteristics of “thin”. The other characteristic of the Oracle VM Server for SPARC is “Type-1”, which implies, that the hypervisor runs directly on the hardware. Let’s first look at the

Hypervisor

Some/many of you might have already come across a T-Series system, as those started years ago with the T1000 system going up to the actual T4-4 system. All share the same hypervisor, but it might be, that you never really dealt with, saw or experienced it. That’s due to the fact, that in the T-Series systems, the hypervisor is part of the system itself, as it is “hidden” in the OBP (Open Boot PROM), which in turn can roughly be compared to the so-called BIOS on x86-based systems. So, contrary to most hypervisors on x86-based systems, here we do not need to install additional software. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to check for the version of the OBP, as there were changes and updates to it, adding more and new features. So, bluntly speaking, if you are using a T-Series system, and never subdivided it into Logical Domains, you’re still running in a big Logical Domain that simply uses all the available hardware. That can be used as proof for the maturity and stability of the hypervisor in use in the T-Series systems.

Management

I mentioned, that a thin hypervisor needs an external entity to manage the hypervisor, as the management is not part of the hypervisor itself. As a T-Series system should also be able to be used without a large external management framework (but it can also be managed by such a large external environment, we will discuss it in the August Edition of the eSTEP newsletter), the management will be done by a so-called guest on top of the hypervisor. We’ve seen in the section above, that every OS running on a T-Series system, runs on top of a hypervisor, as the hypervisor is part of the OBP and therefore every OS is a guest on top of the hypervisor in a T-Series system. So, in order to create the management system, we only need to start the relevant control daemons in the already running OS, assign specific virtual CPUs to be used for this “control domain”, configure the virtual network and storage devices, and reboot. Once that’s done, the non-used/no-longer-used/freed hardware can be used to create additional Logical Domains. The whole process is described in detail in the documentation available at: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/documentation/vm-sparc-194287.html therefore we’ll omit the detailed steps here.

Devices

Oracle VM Server for SPARC performs the subdividing or partitioning of a system on logical boundaries like a Thread in a Core in a CPU and on dividing the IO-resources through IO-services or assigning IO-devices. Therefore it is possible to have more Logical Domains than physical devices, which leads to sharing of devices between Logical Domains. Specifically this can or will happen with the network interfaces or the boot disks or the storage HBAs. To manage these things, there’s the possibility to create specific I/O domains. There also is the possibility to create these domains in a redundant, highly available setup. Another thing to keep in mind is, that with sharing a single physical device for different separate domains these domains can influence the throughput of the underlying single physical device. Therefore techniques like the Network virtualization features in Oracle Solaris 11 help in defining quality of service attributes to specific domains.

Types of Domains

Based on the comments above we see that there are different types of domains. The general understanding of these different types is important to get the idea of how Oracle VM Server for SPARC works.

  • Control Domain: This domain runs the Logical Domain Manager and allows you to create and manage other Logical Domains and allocate virtual resources to other domains. There is always only one control domain per server, named primary.

  • Service Domain: This domain provides virtual devices services to other domains, such as a virtual network switch, a virtual console concentrator or a virtual disk server. By creating more than one Service Domain one can create IO-redundancy. At least one Service Domain is required and in many cases with basic setups, the Control Domain is also the Service Domain.

  • I/O-Domain: This is a domain that has direct ownership of and direct access to physical I/O devices, such as a network card. This can also be part of the Control Domain.

  • Guest Domain: This domain is managed by the Control Domain and uses services from the I/O and/or Service Domains.

The following image provides a general picture of Oracle VM Server for SPARC.


Things to consider

From the comments above we can see, that building and architecting virtualized environments might become complex and therefore careful planning of new projects guarantees long term best usage of the created architecture.

Still, there’s another big point to keep in mind. With Moore’s Law and the fact, that software needs don’t grow as fast as hardware gets faster we see many opportunities to consolidate older environments onto less but more powerful new systems. With the advent of the T4-based systems Oracle now has the right solution for these consolidation tasks.

Benefits

  • No additional software needed

  • No additional licenses needed

  • No overhead due to hypervisor

  • Fully supported by Oracle Solaris

  • Physical-to-virtual migration/conversion tools available

  • Fine-grained subdivision of multi-CPU and multi-CORE systems (up to 128 logical domains per physical system possible)

  • Cold, warm and hot (live) migration possible

  • Accepted as licensing-limit/boundary by Oracle

  • Support for and supported by Oracle Solaris Cluster

Conclusion

Oracle VM Server for SPARC is a proven, mature, stable virtualization technology on the T-Series systems. With the advent of the T4-based systems, now even the “performance” of the CPU is right to compete even with x86-based virtualization environments, were applicable. Oracle VM Server for SPARC is fully integrated and therefore easy to deploy, manage and use.

With that we'd like to close this article on Oracle VM Server for SPARC and hope we've kept you eager to read the ones coming in the following newsletters.

Further Reading

http://www.oracle.com/us/technologies/virtualization/oraclevm/oracle-vm-server-for-sparc-068923.html

The series will continue as follows (tentative):

February 2012: Oracle VM Server for x86 (Matthias Pfützner)

March 2012: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers (Detlef Drewanz)

April 2012: Resource Management as Enabling Technology for Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)

May 2012: Network Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)

June 2012: Oracle VM VirtualBox (Detlef Drewanz)

July 2012: Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (Matthias Pfützner)

August 2012: OpsCenter as Management Tool for Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)


If you have questions, feel free to contact me: Matthias Pfützner

Read more:

<<< Part 1: Overview >>> Part 3: Oracle VM Server for x86

Friday Jan 20, 2012

eSTEP: Virtualization@Oracle (Part 1: Overview)

Welcome to the first articel of our series Virtualization@Oracle. In the following months we want to discuss several aspects of Virtualization and what can be used with Oracle technology.

Let us know what you think, give feedback.

Thanks in advanced


Part 1: Overview

As a starter let's see, what Virtualization means.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtualization) describes it as:
"Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources."

Virtualization areas can then be categorized:

  • Hardware
  • Desktop
  • Software
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Data
  • Network
We will at least address Hardware, Desktop and Operating System (as part of Software) and may add Network and Storage later on...

But before we dive into the specific layers and topics in more detail, this introductory article  explains the basics, what Oracle is capable of doing, and how it's done.

Before looking at the hardware layer, we introduce some concepts. These are called:
  • Full Virtualization
  • Paravirtualization
Then we define the term
  • Hypervisor
and talk about the differences between
  • Thick Hypervisor
  • Thin Hypervisor
  • Type 1 Hypervisor
  • Type 2 Hypervisor
Before starting into definitions, it should be mentioned, that this series will not cover software virtualization. In order to explain, what can be understood by software virtualization, here are some examples:
  • Application servers are means of virtualizing the application by spreading the task of running an application (or a business transaction, or many such parallel transactions) across multiple so-called instances of the application, possibly spread across multiple physical servers.
  • Even at the time, when the definitions of some internet software protocols were created, they already allowed for software virtualization, like the definition of the MX-records (list of servers for internet Mail Exchange - not to be confused by Microsoft’s e-mail program by the name of Exchange) in the DNS (Domain Name System, the directory of all servers on the Internet), where there can be secondary servers useful if the primary servers are not reachable.
  • Also an Oracle RAC implementation can be seen as software virtualization, because it allows for the distribution of the task across multiple instances and/or servers.
So, there is a broad range of such software virtualization technologies, which will not be covered in this series.

Let's start the definitions section with the term

Full Virtualization

Again, Wikipedia has a complete article on that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_virtualization), but for our purposes here it should be sufficient to define it as a technology, that 100% abstracts the underlying layers, so that the layer and its interfaces can be 100% similar. So for "stuff" being programmed (be it an Operating System or an application) there is no need to know anything about the possible different implementations of the underlying layers. This then enables the easy migration from one fully virtualized environment into another fully virtualized environment.

Back to the definition section, and to the term

Paravirtualization

Again, here also, we have something from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paravirtualization), but for us here it shall suffice to say, that Paravirtualization differs from Full Virtualization in a way that it might expose some of the underlying elements directly. With that, different implementations of Paravirtualization might differ in small things, making the portability harder, as in the upper layers there needs to be an understanding of these differences. The advantage might in contrast be, that with the direct exposing of underlying stuff, these can be used to better serve specific needs. Therefore Paravirtualization adds into the upper layers of a stack specifics of the technology being virtualized. Typically this can increase the efficiency of the virtualization, because it often e.g. eliminates latency, which might be added through the full virtualization. On the other hand the knowledge and use of specifics of the underlaying virtualization technology makes it harder to change later to another virtualization technology.

With that definition we can now also introduce the concept of a

Hypervisor

Again, Wikipedia has a full article on that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervisor) but suffice it to say, that a hypervisor is the layer that abstracts the underlying elements, so that the stuff above it doesn't know, what's underneath, and only sees the interfaces exposed by the hypervisor. One could also call it a virtual machine manager, and, yes, this also is possible on different levels of the stack.

Back to the definition section and to the term

Thick Hypervisor

Every hypervisor needs something to configure itself or be configured. So, if the hypervisor itself contains all these configuration tools directly, accessible via interfaces to configure itself, than we call it a thick hypervisor.
Thin Hypervisor
In contrast, if the hypervisor itself requires some external entity to be configured, than we call it a thin hypervisor.

Then we have the term

Type 1 Hypervisor

A Type 1 hypervisor runs directly on top of some hardware, whereas a

Type 2 Hypervisor

requires an already running operating system, and therefore runs inside that Operating System.

Now, with the definitions done, let's go back and look at Oracle and its product portfolio, w.r.t.

Hardware Virtualization

Again: Wikipedia has an Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware_virtualization

When we look at the hardware layer, Oracle has a couple of different products, based on different technologies.

Oracle offers SPARC and x86 based systems, and divides those on the SPARC side into  T- and M-series. The x86 systems have names like X????.

Looking at these three system-series, we have the following Oracle virtualization technologies, which can be used on the systems:
  • M-Series: Dynamic System Domains
  • T-Series: Oracle VM Server for SPARC (aka: Logical Domains)
  • x86-based systems: Oracle VM Server for x86, Oracle VM VirtualBox
While both Oracle VM Servers (SPARC and x86) are type-1 hypervisors, Oracle VM VirtualBox is a type-2 hypervisor.

If we move up the stack, we have to look at what's available from the Operating System. Wikipedia calls that

Operating System-level Virtualization

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_system-level_virtualization).

This technology provides applications a secure and isolated runtime environment, that acts like an exclusive OS instance, but shares some resources of the operation system like devices and the kernel. Resource management is need, if Operating system-level virtualization is used.

Before we dive deeper, we first need to classify the different Operating Systems, that can run on the different types of hardware:
  • M-Series: Oracle Solaris
  • T-Series: Oracle Solaris
  • x86-based Systems: Oracle Solaris, Linux, Microsoft Windows.
In the articles to come, we will mainly look at what's available inside Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux. For Oracle Solaris that technology is named Oracle Solaris Zones (aka Oracle Solaris Containers).

Another major area of virtualisation centers around the desktop.

Desktop Virtualization

In order to describe that, let’s first define, what a desktop is. Also Wikipedia has articles on that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_virtualization, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_environment). Let's stick to the term: A Desktop is, what a person sees on his computer monitor and interacts with a keyboard and mouse.

Desktop Virtualization then in turn describes technologies, that separate the "provider of the desktop" from the system, that controls the monitor, keyboard and mouse. More on that also in articles to come.

To finish, let’s add a small picture to help to understand the positioning:


With that we'd like to close this first introductory article and hope we've made you eager to read the ones coming in the following newsletters.

The series will continue as follows (tentative):

January 2012: Oracle VM Server for SPARC (Matthias Pfützner)
February 2012: Oracle VM Server for x86 (Matthias Pfützner)
March 2012: Oracle Solaris Zones and Linux Containers (Detlef Drewanz)
April 2012: Resource Management as Enabling Technology for Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)
May 2012: Network Virtualization (Detlef Drewanz)
June 2012: Oracle VM VirtualBox (Detlef Drewanz)
July 2012: Oracle Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) (Matthias Pfützner)
August 2012: OpsCenter as Management Tool for Virtualization (Matthias Pfützner)

If you have questions, feel free to contact me: Matthias Pfützner

Read more:


>>> Part 2: Oracle VM Server for SPARC
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