Now For Some Real World Solaris xVM Benchmarks

Yesterday I talked mainly about Etude, one of Sun's newest virtualization technologyies, and briefly mentioned xVM, the Solaris x86 Virtual Machine. Today it is time to talk a little more about xVM. Of course, talk is cheap, so how about some real benchmarks. You can try out xVM today, via the OpenSolaris Xen community. That is exactly what Simon Fraser University did using the dCache program which is used to manage petabytes of data at particle physics labs around the world. Many dcache sites have already switched to Solaris so they can take advantage of the data integrity features of ZFS. When you are managing 15 petabytes of information, data integrity is important.

Check out the presentation abstract and the presentation slides.

Oh, first let me quote from the last bullet on slide 16:

  • ... dCache runs approximately 10-15% faster on Solaris than on Linux ...

    That was just to get a native OS performance baseline without without xVM. I'm not sure how many dCache servers are needed for 15 PB of data, but it is quite a few, and a 10-15% savings, especially for many of the sites which are maxed out on power, is one great benefit of Solaris.

    As for Solaris xVM. First question everyone asks me is, "how much overhead will there be?" Some of the Linux hypervisor implementations are notoriously slow, so customers have good cause to wonder if we can do better with Solaris xVM. So with the caveate that this test is using a very early version of xVM (it is still, in fact, referred to in the benchmark results as Xen), let me quote the dCache on xVM results:

  • All fuctional tests were successful
  • Performance was up to 95% of the same dCache configuration performance running at the same OS in a non-virtualized environment

    Wow! I think I have to go redo the Solaris xVM team's performance goals.

    By the way, as far as I know, no one is running dCache on a NetApps server. That is because despite the name NetApps, you can't actually run applications on a NetApps box, it is a proprietary appliance that only runs the file system services that NetApps decides it wants you to run. Most of the dCache sites running Solaris are doing so on our Sun Fire x4500 data servers. You see, in this case as the name implies, the x4500 data server not only serves up your data using standard protocols like NFS, it also is a standard Solaris server that runs any of the 1000's of applications, like dCache, that run on Solaris. Not that the appliance model is a bad one. In fact, the x4500 would make a great building block for a storage server appliance. Lets just say that if Sun builds one, I bet that someone will run dCache on it.

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