Saturday May 16, 2009

Solaris Virtualization Epiphany

I was giving my standard pitch covering Sun Virtualisation Technologies which essentially entails me talking at length about the following slide. I kind of make the point that it is a means not an end, and that really what you're trying to do is run more applications on the same piece of hardware, and the trick is to try and do it most efficiently.


I've done this talk countless times with a pretty wide variety of customers, and I tend to start talking from the right, and move to the left, explaining how the "layer of additional non app resource utilisation" grows from right to left. (not true for Dynamic System Domains on the far left though.)

It finally occurred to me yesterday that the Unix and Windows world have an utterly different view of Virtualisation, and the need for Virtual Machines.

In the Unix world, application co-existence is second nature to most sys-admins. Virtualisation is all about application isolation. i.e. You START with all the apps on a single O/S instance, and you apply more and more constraints: resource management --> containers/zones --> virtual machines --> dynamic system domains.

In the Windows world, application co-existence is so rare that it isn't even considered. Virtualisation is all about application consolidation. (and the primary way to do it is to create lots of virtual machines, one per app).

The problem is simply viewed from completely different angles.

It's not just an application co-existence issue either. There's a scalability problem. A lot of "other" O/S's can't scale to fit the larger more powerful Intel/AMD multi-core servers available today, and the ONLY way to make use of them is to carve them up into smaller machines that Windows or Linux can digest. Solaris, on the other hand can scale up to hundreds of CPUs, and hundreds of Gigabytes of memory.

From the slide above, Sun/Solaris provides a wide choice of technologies to allow multiple applications to be consolidated onto a single server. Don't let the limitations of "other" O/S's blinker you into thinking that a Virtual Machine is the only answer. 

(I'm not saying that Virtual Machines is the WRONG answer btw, it's ONE of the answers, but it shouldn't be the only one that is considered.)

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