Automating zone and application provisioning



Over the last few months I've re-provisioned the zones on my laptop multiple times. Approximately 3 times. The first was my original installation. The second  was because of my defragmented Solaris partition. The last was due to moving my N-Tier HA Web application setup in 5 zones from the external USB ZFS drive to my 2nd internal ZFS drive. Wish I knew about zone migration being in build 41 before I manually re-created the zones! Sigh.

Now that's just me. 3 installs. I wonder how many times, across the Sun field folks, that N-Tier setup has been provisioned? How much time would have been saved if the process was automated? At some point the same folks will repeat the process when Glassfish gets enterprise (High Availability) capabilities. From a different perspective, how many times was provisioning  not done due to the effort and time involved?

[Context Switch] I really dig creating demos. A picture is worth a thousand words. A screenshot is worth 1K of ASCII. A demo is worth 1000 screenshots, and definitely much better than a screenshot of a demo.

[Context Switch] I've been watching  N1 at work within a customer environment. Provisioning bare metal with Solaris 10. Creating zones. Deploying an N-Tier architecture. Deploying applications too. All via point-and-click. Repeatable. Predictable. Auditable. Of course, there is work behind the scenes to build the "plans" (sequence of provisioning rules/commands) to provision the stack, but it's a one-time hit.

[Bringing it all together] Wouldn't it be nice if those of us in the "field" at Sun used N1 to provision demos to our laptops? Yeah, I could try tar. Or flar. Yeah, I could use VMWare. If VMWare supported Solaris 10 X86 as a host OS (Grrrr). Or the QEMU if the QEMU accelerator supported Solaris. Regardless, I think I would use N1 anyway. Why? Because I want to learn more. Because N1 is more flexible than VMware in that VMWare provisions static images, N1 allows parameterization. Actually, VMWare and N1 are complimentary with some overlap (N1 can be used to provision the N-Tiers within 1 or more VMWare virtual machines for example).

So I am thinking of building a machine or two to host N1, most likely just the N1 Service Provisioning System. From there I can host the Java Enterprise System bits, which get downloaded and customized to a fresh zone created on a Solaris 10 laptop, according to an N1 "plan". Of course, finding the hardware to host the N1 software could be problematic. It'll require calling in some favors. Wait ... Uhhh .... I'm in the red on the favor balance  thing ... Hmmm ... . Bah, what's one more favor!?

If anyone at Sun is interested in such a scenario, lemme know. Could use some help. And some hardware :) Expect to blog about it.
Comments:

VMware actually does support parameterization - look at the template support in Virtual Center. Though this is just for the guest OS install, it doesn't handle the host OS.

Posted by Andy Tucker on June 15, 2006 at 04:22 AM PDT #

Andy, thanks for the comment and correction. I'll have to take a look at Virtual Center. No harm intended. In fact, I wish they supported Solaris 10 as a host OS so I didn't have to occasionally boot Windows. Grrr.

Posted by John Clingan on June 15, 2006 at 04:49 AM PDT #

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