Tuesday May 20, 2008

Using LDOMs and CMT to improve scalability and system utilization

Recent advances in multi-core chip technology, has led to a new breed of server systems that are offering unprecedented compute power resulting in breakthrough performance. To fully utilize compute power of these new type of systems, parallelism in applications is becoming increasingly important. Running application server software, like existing web and application server softwares on these new systems results in under utilized system resources and lower performance. Modification of such server softwares, to take advantage of these new type of server systems, can be a very complicated and time consuming effort.

One approach to solve the scaling issue, posed by these applications, is to run multiple instances of the application. While this technique can be a quick solution, it complicates the deployment process. To run multiple instances of the application, without having to change the deployment process, customers can look to virtualizing these new generation of server systems.

Using LDOMs as a Virtualization technology, a single server system can be carved out into multiple logical systems, each with its own operating system and each running an independent instance of the application software.

With an intent to demonstrate this idea, we recently conducted a study to explore the use of Sun's CMT platform and LDOMs Virtualization technology as a means to increase application software scalability and improve system utilization.

For the purpose of this study, we organized our application server software stack, using popular open source software, viz.
  • MySQL database server
  • Tomcat application server
and a demo web application that simulates an online pet store. We then deployed it on multiple logical domains of a
  • a Sun SPARC Enterprise T5220 server running
  • Open Solaris operating system and
  • the Logical Domains Manager 1.0.1 software for managing the Virtualization platform
The Web application performance was measured using the popular load generator
  • Grinder.
The goal was to push the system to fully utilize system resources and achieve maximum transactions per second (TPS). Configurations with 6 logical domains and with 12 domains were compared, to determine any differences in CPU and network utilization.

We concluded that deploying the application in a virtualized environment resulted in better utilization of system resources and as much as ten-times improvement in performance, when compared to a single application instance running on the system.

For details, please refer to the blueprint published for this study http://wikis.sun.com/display/BluePrints/Using+Logical+Domains+and+CoolThreads+Technology.
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