Solaris and Xen

Sun have released their latest Xen update and it looks like it will be one of the key strategic platforms:

And that’s exactly the theory behind the newly bundled virtualization features in Solaris 10 – from Xen to ZFS, Crossbow to Java (fancy names for the same idea – reducing complexity to increase productivity). Solaris 10’s virtualization enables customers to consolidate the sprawling Linux, Solaris and Windows boxes laying around their datacenters, without having to pay exorbitant software licenses for add-on products. We built virtualization in to Solaris 10 not to encourage fewer computer or storage purchases, but instead, more – systems that are twice as utilized are twice as affordable. (When you double the mileage of a car, more people can afford it.)

One of the potential highlights is Virtual NICs with Crossbow, but the Sun overall integration might be good as well. I’m well behind in my grunt time for IT work so my Solaris test boxes need some live-updates before I can try this out easily. The install doesn’t look that clear cut yet either. Although that might be more to do with the way Solaris works.

The two key things I want to know are: 1) will I be able to use zvols with Xen, and 2) will live migration between two Solaris boxes with xen work out of the box with zvols and Solaris clustering.

XenEnterprise is good for managing Windows HVM domains, but it is currently a PITA to get generic Linux based system installed and running in PV-mode. The upcoming 4.0 version and with it’s new XVA (xen virtual appliance) format might solve this issue, but at the moment my thoughts are pushing that OSS Xen is a easier to manage Linux platform and leave XenEnterprise to only run Windows with XE PV drivers. Of course is Solaris provides a good platform it is worth considering as well.


  1. John Levon Said,

    August 3, 2007 @ 11:33 am

    Yes, you will be able to use zvols with Xen – one of the exciting things
    we do every day whilst developing is use the snapshot, clone, and rollback features of ZFS alongside Xen domains.

    For live migration, you currently need some kind of shared storage
    (NFS-shared file, iscsi, etc.). The possibilities with ZFS and live migration are certainly there, but still need to be implemented.

  2. stateless Said,

    August 3, 2007 @ 11:44 am

    The aspect I’m quite interested in is the whole: suspend, snapshot, patch the clone, and regression test. Plus the poor mans xen DR with zfs send/recv.

    If there is support for being able to drop in pre-built xen images from other sources: like xva or rpath images. Then it is certainly going to the top of the list.

    zfs makes a compelling shared storage choice for small data centers where something like NetApp is overkill. However NFS+zfs issues with linux and flaky iscsi [1] target make it a difficult option at present. Native Xen on Solaris creates a lot move choice.

    [1] At when I was trying 62. I haven’t had time to try the new version, but I will when I look into the Xen support as well.

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