Going to school on Zones
By John Clingan on Jan 25, 2005
I have been asked by a fellow Starbucks addict to add Tomcat to the zone testing mix. We have been talking about providing a container-per-student in a classroom setting (he is an instructor doing computer science geek stuff).
In a previous life (pre-daughter) I taught Java as part of an extended university program. I had to provide my requirements to the university and they would build a disk (yes a DISK) with the image on it for doing software development. Before each class they would go in and swap all the hard drives. Now that's expensive and labor intensive. This instructor has a similar situation. Actually, pick an instructor and they have the same problem ...
With Solaris 10 we can create a zone template for each course served by the server. Here's the thought:
- At the start of the semester: install a zone for each student in each course
- Set up a cron job to boot and halt zones when appropriate:
- 9:00am Boot student zones for web development course
- 10:25 Halt student zones for web development course
- 10:30 Boot student zones for database development with MySQL course
- 11:55 Halt student zones for databasae development with MySQL course
- When at home or in dorm, provide a web form for a student to boot/halt his/her zone.
- At end of semester delete the zone.
Of course SMF will launch the appropriate services for each course. The next thing we are talking about is front-ending the zones with Sun Rays or Windows Terminal Server (that's another blog entry ) where he can run NetBeans or Eclipse (yet another another blog entry ).
In the meantime, I have to install Tomcat and get an idea about memory (primarily resident set size) so he can get a feel for the number of students we can support on a server. As for CPU, well, we'll just have to track that in a real-world setting to get a feel for how his students will utilize the zones ...
The next step, if zones can be stored on an NFS mount, would be to provide a rack of servers and dynamically launch a student's zone on server in a zone server grid. That will let us load balance regardless of student or course. That is yet another blog entry.