Monday Feb 16, 2015

How to Build Software Defined Networks Using Elastic Virtual Switches - Part 1

Oracle Solaris 11.2 enhances the existing,integrated software-defined networking (SDN) technologies provided by earlier releases of Oracle Solaris to provide much greater application agility without the added overhead of expensive network hardware.

It now enables application-driven, multitenant cloud virtual networking across a completely distributed set of systems; decoupling from the physical network infrastructure; and application-level network service-level agreements (SLAs)—all built in as part of the platform. Enhancements and new features include the following:

• Network virtualization with virtual network interface cards (VNICs), elastic virtual switches, virtual local area networks (VLANs), and virtual extensible VLANs (VXLANs)
• Network resource management and integrated, application- level quality of service (QoS) to enforce bandwidth limits on VNICs and traffic flows
• Cloud readiness, a core feature of the OpenStack distribution included in Oracle Solaris 11
• Tight integration with Oracle Solaris Zones

About the Elastic Virtual Switch Feature of Oracle Solaris

The Elastic Virtual Switch (EVS) feature provides a built-in distributed virtual network infrastructure that can be used to deploy and manage virtual switches that are spread across several compute nodes. These compute nodes are the physical machines that host virtual machines (VMs).

An elastic virtual switch is an entity that represents explicitly created virtual switches that belong to the same Layer 2 (L2) segment. An elastic virtual switch provides network connectivity between VMs connected to it from anywhere in the network.

For more information how-to combine software-defined networking (SDN) and Elastic Virtual Switch (EVS) technologies using examples see the following article:How to Build Software Defined Networks Using Elastic Virtual Switches - Part 1

Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

How to Set Up a Hadoop Cluster Using Oracle Solaris (Hands-On Lab)

Oracle Technology Network (OTN) published the "How to Set Up a Hadoop Cluster Using Oracle Solaris" OOW 2013 Hands-On Lab.
This hands-on lab presents exercises that demonstrate how to set up an Apache Hadoop cluster using Oracle Solaris
11 technologies such as Oracle Solaris Zones, ZFS, and network virtualization. Key topics include the Hadoop Distributed File System
(HDFS) and the Hadoop MapReduce programming model.
We will also cover the Hadoop installation process and the cluster building blocks:
NameNode, a secondary NameNode, and DataNodes. In addition, you will see how you can combine the Oracle Solaris 11 technologies for better
scalability and data security, and you will learn how to load data into the Hadoop cluster and run a MapReduce job.

Summary of Lab Exercises
This hands-on lab consists of 13 exercises covering various Oracle Solaris and Apache Hadoop technologies:
    Install Hadoop.
    Edit the Hadoop configuration files.
    Configure the Network Time Protocol.
    Create the virtual network interfaces (VNICs).
    Create the NameNode and the secondary NameNode zones.
    Set up the DataNode zones.
    Configure the NameNode.
    Set up SSH.
    Format HDFS from the NameNode.
    Start the Hadoop cluster.
    Run a MapReduce job.
    Secure data at rest using ZFS encryption.
    Use Oracle Solaris DTrace for performance monitoring.

Read it now

Monday May 20, 2013

How To Protect Public Cloud Using Solaris 11 Technologies

When we meet with our partners, we often ask them, “ What are their main security challenges for public cloud infrastructure.? What worries them in this regard?”
This is what we've gathered from our partners regarding the security challenges:

1.    Protect data at rest in transit and in use using encryption
2.    Prevent denial of service attacks against their infrastructure
3.    Segregate network traffic between different cloud users
4.    Disable hostile code (e.g.’ rootkit’ attacks)
5.    Minimize operating system attack surface
6.    Secure data deletions once we have done with our project
7.    Enable strong authorization and authentication for non secure protocols

Based on these guidelines, we began to design our Oracle Developer Cloud. Our vision was to leverage Solaris 11 technologies in order to meet those security requirements.

First - Our partners would like to encrypt everything from disk up the layers to the application without the performance overhead which is usually associated with this type of technology.
The SPARC T4 (and lately the SPARC T5) integrated cryptographic accelerator allow us to encrypt data using ZFS encryption capability.
We can encrypt all the network traffic using SSL from the client connection to the cloud main portal using the Secure Global Desktop (SGD) technology and also encrypt the network traffic between the application tier to the database tier. In addition to that we can protect our Database tables using Oracle Transparent Data Encryption (TDE).
During our performance tests we saw that the performance impact was very low (less than 5%) when we enabled those encryption technologies.
The following example shows how we created an encrypted file system

# zfs create -o encryption=on rpool/zfs_file_system

Enter passphrase for 'rpool/zfs_file_system':
Enter again:

NOTE - In the above example, we used a passphrase that is interactively requested but we can use SSL or a key repository.
Second  - How we can mitigate denial of service attacks?
The new Solaris 11 network virtualization technology allow us to apply virtualization technologies to  our network by splitting the physical network card into multiple virtual network ‘cards’. in addition, it provides the capability to setup flow which is sophisticated quality of service mechanism.
Flows allow us to limit the network bandwidth for a specific network port on specific network interface.

In the following example we limit the SSL traffic to 100Mb on the vnic0 network interface

# dladm create-vnic vnic0 –l net0
# flowadm add-flow -l vnic0 -a transport=TCP,local_port=443 https-flow
# flowadm set-flowprop -p maxbw=100M https-flow

During any (Denial of Service) DOS attack against this web server, we can minimize the impact on the rest of the infrastructure.
Third -  How can we isolate network traffic between different tenants of the public cloud?
The new Solaris 11 network technology allow us to segregate the network traffic on multiple layers.

For example we can limit the network traffic based on the layer two using VLANs

# dladm create-vnic -l net0  -v 2 vnic1

Also we can be implement firewall rules for layer three separations using the Solaris 11 built-in firewall software.
For an example of Solaris 11 firewall see
In addition to the firewall software, Solaris 11 has built-in load balancer and routing software. In a cloud based environment it means that new functionality can be added promptly since we don't need an extra hardware in order to implement those extra functions.

Fourth - Rootkits have become a serious threat is allowing the insertion of hostile code using custom kernel modules.
The Solaris Zones technology prevents loading or unloading kernel modules (since local zones lack the sys_config privilege).
This way we can limit the attack surface and prevent this type of attack.

In the following example we can see that even the root user is unable to load custom kernel module inside a Solaris zone

# ppriv -De modload -p /tmp/systrace

modload[21174]: missing privilege "ALL" (euid = 0, syscall = 152) needed at modctl+0x52
Insufficient privileges to load a module

Fifth - the Solaris immutable zones technology allows us to minimize the operating system attack surface
For example: disable the ability to install new IPS packages and modify file systems like /etc
We can setup Solaris immutable zones using the zonecfg command.

# zonecfg -z secure-zone
Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
zonecfg:secure-zone> create
create: Using system default template 'SYSdefault'
zonecfg:secure-zone> set zonepath=/zones/secure-zone
zonecfg:secure-zone> set file-mac-profile=fixed-configuration
zonecfg:secure-zone> commit
zonecfg:secure-zone> exit

# zoneadm -z secure-zone install

We can combine the ZFS encryption and immutable zones for more examples see:

Sixth - The main challenge of building secure BIG Data solution is the lack of built-in security mechanism for authorization and authentication.
The Integrated Solaris Kerberos allows us to enable strong authorization and authentication for non-secure by default distributed systems like Apache Hadoop.

The following example demonstrates how easy it is to install and setup Kerberos infrastructure on Solaris 11

# pkg install pkg://solaris/system/security/kerberos-5
# kdcmgr -a kws/admin -r EXAMPLE.COM create master

Finally - our partners want to assure that when the projects are finished and complete, all the data is erased without the ability to recover this data by looking at the disk blocks directly bypassing the file system layer.
ZFS assured delete feature allows us to implement this kind of secure deletion.
The following example shows how we can change the ZFS wrapping key to a random data (output of /dev/random) then we unmount the file system and finally destroy it.

# zfs key -c -o  keysource=raw,file:///dev/random rpool/zfs_file_system
# zfs key -u rpool/zfs_file_system
# zfs destroy rpool/zfs_file_system

In this blog entry, I covered how we can leverage the SPARC T4/T5 and the Solaris 11 features in order to build secure cloud infrastructure. Those technologies allow us to build highly protected environments without  the need to invest extra budget on special hardware. They also  allow us to protect our data and network traffic from various threats.
If you would like to hear more about those technologies, please join us at the next IGT cloud meet-up

Monday Jun 04, 2012

Oracle Solaris Zones Physical to virtual (P2V)

This document describes the process of creating and installing a Solaris 10 image build from physical system and migrate it into a virtualized operating system environment using the Oracle Solaris 10 Zones Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) capability.
Using an example and various scenarios, this paper describes how to take advantage of the
Oracle Solaris 10 Zones Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) capability with other Oracle Solaris features to optimize performance using the Solaris 10 resource management advanced storage management using Solaris ZFS plus improving operating system visibility with Solaris DTrace.

The most common use for this tool is when performing consolidation of existing systems onto virtualization enabled platforms, in addition to that we can use the Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) capability  for other tasks for example backup your physical system and move them into virtualized operating system environment hosted on the Disaster
Recovery (DR) site another option can be building an Oracle Solaris 10 image repository with various configuration and a different software packages in order to reduce provisioning time.

Oracle Solaris Zones
Oracle Solaris Zones is a virtualization and partitioning technology supported on Oracle Sun servers powered by SPARC and Intel processors.
This technology provides an isolated and secure environment for running applications.
A zone is a virtualized operating system environment created within a single instance of the Solaris 10 Operating System.
Each virtual system is called a zone and runs a unique and distinct copy of the Solaris 10 operating system.

Oracle Solaris Zones Physical-to-Virtual (P2V)
A new feature for Solaris 10 9/10.This feature provides the ability to build a Solaris 10 images from physical
system and migrate it into a virtualized operating system environment
There are three main steps using this tool

1. Image creation on the source system, this image includes the operating system and optionally the software in which we want to include within the image.
2. Preparing the target system by configuring a new zone that will host the new image.
3. Image installation on the target system using the image we created on step 1.

The host, where the image is built, is referred to as the source system and the host, where the
image is installed, is referred to as the target system.

Benefits of Oracle Solaris Zones Physical-to-Virtual (P2V)
Here are some benefits of this new feature:

  •  Simple- easy build process using Oracle Solaris 10 built-in commands.

  •  Robust- based on Oracle Solaris Zones a robust and well known virtualization technology.

  •  Flexible- support migration between V series servers into T or -M-series systems.For the latest server information, refer to the Sun Servers web page.

    The minimum Solaris version on the target system should be Solaris 10 9/10.
    Refer to the latest Administration Guide for Oracle Solaris 10 for a complete procedure on how to
    download and install Oracle Solaris.

  • NOTE: If the source system that used to build the image is an older version then the target
    system, then during the process, the operating system will be upgraded to Solaris 10 9/10
    (update on attach).
    Creating the Image Used to distribute the software.
    We will create an image on the source machine. We can create the image on the local file system and then transfer it to the target machine,

    or build it into a NFS shared storage and
    mount the NFS file system from the target machine.
    Optional  before creating the image we need to complete the software installation that we want to include with the Solaris 10 image.
    An image is created by using the flarcreate command:
    Source # flarcreate -S -n s10-system -L cpio /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar
    The command does the following:

  •  -S specifies that we skip the disk space check and do not write archive size data to the archive (faster).

  •  -n specifies the image name.

  •  -L specifies the archive format (i.e cpio).

    Optionally, we can add descriptions to the archive identification section, which can help to identify the archive later.
    Source # flarcreate -S -n s10-system -e "Oracle Solaris with Oracle DB" -a "oracle" -L cpio /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar
    You can see example of the archive identification section in Appendix A: archive identification section.
    We can compress the flar image using the gzip command or adding the -c option to the flarcreate command
    Source # gzip /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar
    An md5 checksum can be created for the image in order to ensure no data tampering
    Source # digest -v -a md5 /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar

    Moving the image into the target system.
    If we created the image on the local file system, we need to transfer the flar archive from the source machine to the target machine.

    Source # scp /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar target:/var/tmp
    Configuring the Zone on the target system
    After copying the software to the target machine, we need to configure a new zone in order to host the new image on that zone.
    To install the new zone on the target machine, first we need to configure the zone (for the full zone creation options see the following link:  )

    ZFS integration
    A flash archive can be created on a system that is running a UFS or a ZFS root file system.
    NOTE: If you create a Solaris Flash archive of a Solaris 10 system that has a ZFS root, then by
    default, the flar will actually be a ZFS send stream, which can be used to recreate the root pool.
    This image cannot be used to install a zone. You must create the flar with an explicit cpio or pax
    archive when the system has a ZFS root.
    Use the flarcreate command with the -L archiver option, specifying cpio or pax as the
    method to archive the files. (For example, see Step 1 in the previous section).
    Optionally, on the target system you can create the zone root folder on a ZFS file system in
    order to benefit from the ZFS features (clones, snapshots, etc...).

    Target # zpool create zones c2t2d0

    Create the zone root folder:

    Target # chmod 700 /zones
    Target # zonecfg -z solaris10-up9-zone
    solaris10-up9-zone: No such zone configured
    Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> create -b
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> set zonepath=/zones
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> set autoboot=true
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> add net
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone:net> set address=
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone:net> set physical=nxge0
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone:net> end
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> verify
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> commit
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> exit

    Installing the Zone on the target system using the image
    Install the configured zone solaris10-up9-zone by using the zoneadm command with the install -
    a option and the path to the archive.
    The following example shows how to create an Image and sys-unconfig the zone.
    Target # zoneadm -z solaris10-up9-zone install -u -a
    Log File: /var/tmp/solaris10-up9-zone.install_log.AJaGve
    Installing: This may take several minutes...
    The following example shows how we can preserve system identity.
    Target # zoneadm -z solaris10-up9-zone install -p -a /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar

    Resource management

    Some applications are sensitive to the number of CPUs on the target Zone. You need to
    match the number of CPUs on the Zone using the zonecfg command:
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone>add dedicated-cpu
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> set ncpus=16

    DTrace integration
    Some applications might need to be analyzing using DTrace on the target zone, you can
    add DTrace support on the zone using the zonecfg command:

    Exclusive IP

    An Oracle Solaris Container running in Oracle Solaris 10 can have a
    shared IP stack with the global zone, or it can have an exclusive IP
    stack (which was released in Oracle Solaris 10 8/07). An exclusive IP
    stack provides a complete, tunable, manageable and independent
    networking stack to each zone. A zone with an exclusive IP stack can
    configure Scalable TCP (STCP), IP routing, IP multipathing, or IPsec.
    For an example of how to configure an Oracle Solaris zone with an
    exclusive IP stack, see the following example

    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone set ip-type=exclusive
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> add net
    zonecfg:solaris10-up9-zone> set physical=nxge0

    When the installation completes, use the zoneadm list -i -v options to list the installed
    zones and verify the status.
    Target # zoneadm list -i -v
    See that the new Zone status is installed
    0 global running / native shared
    - solaris10-up9-zone installed /zones native shared
    Now boot the Zone
    Target # zoneadm -z solaris10-up9-zone boot
    We need to login into the Zone order to complete the zone set up or insert a sysidcfg file before
    booting the zone for the first time see example for sysidcfg file in Appendix B: sysidcfg file
    Target # zlogin -C solaris10-up9-zone

    If an installation fails, review the log file. On success, the log file is in /var/log inside the zone. On
    failure, the log file is in /var/tmp in the global zone.
    If a zone installation is interrupted or fails, the zone is left in the incomplete state. Use uninstall -F

    to reset the zone to the configured state.
    Target # zoneadm -z solaris10-up9-zone uninstall -F
    Target # zonecfg -z solaris10-up9-zone delete -F
    Oracle Solaris Zones P2V tool provides the flexibility to build pre-configured
    images with different software configuration for faster deployment and server consolidation.
    In this document, I demonstrated how to build and install images and to integrate the images with other Oracle Solaris features like ZFS and DTrace.

    Appendix A: archive identification section
    We can use the head -n 20 /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar command in order to access the
    identification section that contains the detailed description.
    Target # head -n 20 /var/tmp/solaris_10_up9.flar
    begin 755 predeployment.cpio.Z

    Appendix B: sysidcfg file section
    Target # cat sysidcfg
    network_interface=primary {hostname= solaris10-up9-zone

    We need to copy this file before booting the zone
    Target # cp sysidcfg /zones/solaris10-up9-zone/root/etc/

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