Use Cases for Network Virtualization and Resource Control (Project Crossbow)

Network Virtualization and Resource Control, more often referred to as Project Crossbow, is in beta starting today. Some may wonder whether they should try the beta code, and if so, how to show the benefits Crossbow delivers. Here is a list of some use cases for Crossbow.

Network Virtualization

Requirement: You need more NICs than are installed or supported on the system. Use zones with exclusive IP Instance, but share a single NIC or small number of NICs.

Feature: Any crossbow supported NIC can now be split up into several VNICs, and those VNICs can be assigned to different zones. Optionally, resource management can be applied to any or all VNICs.

Benefit: Zones that need network administrative isolation can share a single NIC. Traffic between zones with exclusive IP Instances can be contained within the system if the zones use VNICs on the same NIC. Resource management can be used to limit CPU or network bandwidth associated with a zone by applying controls on a VNIC.

How to Demonstrate:

  • create zones if they don't exist
  • configure zones as ip-type=exclusive
  • create VNICs
  • assign VNICs to zones
  • boot zones
  • observe distributed traffic
  • optionally apply resource controls and observe
or
  • create VNICs
  • assign IP addresses to VNICs
  • run services bound to separate IP addresses
  • observe distributed traffic
  • optionally apply resource controls and observe

Network Traffic Observability

Requirement: Need to measure and monitor network traffic for different services on the system.

Feature: Bytes and packets received and transmitted can be counted and monitored.

Benefit: Better understanding of network traffic patterns, and potential data points to make future resource control decisions. Opportunity to do chargeback based on network usage.

How to Demonstrate:

  • create one or more VNICs using dladm
  • create one or more flows using flowadm
  • show data in real-time using dladm or flowadm
  • show historical data
  • show for data link/NIC, VNIC, and flow

Network Resource Management

Requirement: Limit the amount of network bandwidth used by a service. Control which CPU(s) are used to process network traffic for a service.

Feature: Limits on the maximum network traffic in bits/second can be set. Network traffic processing can be directed to one or more CPUs, providing for better response time for the network stack, or insuring that network stack processing will not interfere with other resource consumers on the system.

Benefit: Finer control of resource utilization. Ability to set quality of service. Prevention of resource starvation by competing consumers. Denial of Service attack defense.

How to Demonstrate:

  • create one or more VNICs using dladm
  • create one or more flows using flowadm
  • set bandwidth caps on VNICs or flows
  • set CPU binding on VNICs or flows
  • see limits enforced under heavy network load by observing the application(s)' data throughput, for example, metrics from
    • wget
    • ftp
    • dladm
    • flowadm statistics
    • your own application metric(s)
  • show different CPU utilization or distribution using mpstat

Note: bandwidth guarantees are not available at this time.

Network Performance Improvements

Requirement: Faster network processing. More efficient network processing.

Features: Improved datagram processing within the IP stack. Automatic switching between interrupt and polling to speed packet processing and remove interrupt overhead.

Benefit: Existing network applications will run faster, with lower latency, higher throughput, and more CPU available to other services. Not application changes are required.

How to Demonstrate:

Compare your application's performance differences

  • using Solaris Nevada build 81 vs. Crossbow beta
  • using Solaris 10 vs. Crossbow beta
Measure latency or throughput, depending on which is more important to your application, and also observe changes in CPU utilization.

Improved IP Forwarding

Requirement: Faster forwarding of IP datagrams.

Feature: Faster forwarding of IP datagrams, especially as routing/forwarding tables get large.

Benefit: Solaris is a better platform for routers and firewalls.

How to Demonstrate:

Compare your router's performance differences

  • using Solaris Nevada build 81 vs. Crossbow beta
  • using Solaris 10 vs. Crossbow beta
Measure latency and throughput, and also observe differences in CPU utilization.

Additional Info

Nicolas' Private Virtual Network

Sunay's blog on network in a box

Karol's testing of Crossbow

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