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Introduction to Oracle® Solaris 11 Virtual Environments

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Updated: October 2017

Oracle Solaris 11.3 Virtualization Technologies

The core purpose of virtualization is to enable a computing environment to run multiple independent systems at the same time. Virtualization provides an efficient way to simplify management of large deployments and maximize workload density to use more of a system's computing capacity.

Virtualization reduces costs through the sharing of hardware, infrastructure, and administration. Benefits include the following:

  • Increasing the utilization of hardware

  • Enabling greater flexibility in resource allocation

  • Reducing power requirements

  • Minimizing management costs

  • Lowering the cost of ownership

  • Providing administrative and resource boundaries between applications on a system

  • Quickly provisioning virtual compute environments from templates and clones

  • Providing layered security and isolation

Oracle Solaris 11.3 enables you to take advantage of several virtualization technology models to suit your computing requirements.

Virtualization Technology Models

    The virtualization models are described by means of the following competing characteristics:

  • The amount of execution environment isolation

  • The amount of resource flexibility

The more isolation that a model provides, the less resource flexibility it provides. The more resource flexibility that a model provides, the less isolation it provides. Because these characteristics compete, they cannot be maximized by a single model.

    You can use the Oracle Solaris 11.3 OS with one or more of the following virtualization technologies, listed in order of increasing execution isolation and decreasing resource flexibility:

  • Operating system (OS) virtualization provides one or more isolated execution environments in a single OS instance. Each environment contains what appears to be a private copy of the OS in a container. The OS virtualization model provides near-native performance and flexibility, and has a much smaller disk, RAM, and CPU footprint than either virtual machines or physical domains. However, the OS virtualization model provides the least amount of execution environment isolation.

    Oracle Solaris 11.3 provides this virtualization model by means of the Oracle Solaris Zones product.

  • Virtual machines can be used to run multiple OS instances with a single set of hardware resources. Each virtual machine that you create runs its own OS. You can run various operating systems in this way. A software or firmware hypervisor creates the illusion that each guest OS instance is running on its own separate system. Virtual machines provide less resource flexibility than a physical machine that uses OS virtualization, but virtual machines do provide more isolation.

    Oracle Solaris 11.3 provides this virtualization model by means of Oracle VM Server for SPARC, Oracle VM Server for x86, and Oracle VM VirtualBox. Note that running Oracle VM VirtualBox and Oracle Solaris Kernel Zones on the Oracle Solaris x86 system at the same time is not supported.

    For information about using Oracle VM VirtualBox, see the Oracle VM VirtualBox documentation (https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Documentation).

  • Hardware partitions, also known as physical domains, provide physical separation between the running OS and its separate set of resources and power. Because this model does not use a hypervisor, it provides bare-metal performance. This virtualization model provides the most isolation, but it is much less flexible with resource configuration than either the virtual machines or OS virtualization model.

    Oracle provides this type of virtualization on Oracle's SPARC M-Series servers. For more information, see the Oracle SPARC Servers: Systems Documentation (https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/sun-sparc-enterprise/documentation/index.html).

Choosing Your Virtualization Model

The following sections describe two types of virtualization to consider:

  • Compute virtualization – Virtualization at the operating system and physical domain level

  • Network virtualization – Virtualization at the networking subsystem level

Compute Virtualization

You can use one or more virtualization technologies to maximize workload density. For example, you could configure multiple zones to run within Oracle VM Server for SPARC logical domains in one or more physical domains of a SPARC M5-32 system to leverage the strengths of the different virtualization technologies.

Figure 1  Using Oracle Solaris Virtualization Technology in Your Environment

image:Illustration shows how you might use each Oracle Solaris virtualization technology in your environment as described in the following text.

    The following describes how you might use each Oracle Solaris 11.3 virtualization technology in your environment:

  • Use Oracle Solaris Zones to maximize the efficiency and scalability of workloads, and to migrate Solaris 8, Solaris 9, Oracle Solaris 10, and Oracle Solaris 11 workloads to new hardware systems. It is not supported to run Oracle VM VirtualBox and Oracle Solaris Kernel Zones at the same time on an x86 system.

  • Use Oracle Solaris Kernel Zone to increase the independence of the kernel zone from the global zone and the host system itself. This configuration provides enhanced security to the operating system instances and its applications.

  • Use Oracle VM Server for SPARC to deploy different Oracle Solaris 10 and Oracle Solaris 11 environments on supported SPARC T-Series and SPARC M-Series systems.

  • Use Oracle VM Server for x86 to deploy a system with heterogeneous operating systems, including the Oracle Solaris 10 OS and the Oracle Solaris 11 OS as guests.

  • Use Oracle VM VirtualBox to develop and test software in heterogeneous environments.

    Oracle VM VirtualBox enables you to run unmodified 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems as virtual machines on Intel and AMD processors directly on your existing OS.

  • Use physical domains on Oracle SPARC M-Series servers to deploy different Oracle Solaris 10 and Oracle Solaris 11 operating systems to electrically isolated domains. Each domain provides separation and isolation from the other domains on the M-Series server at the socket level, or at the board level to provide electrical isolation. Each domain can run a different version of the Oracle Solaris 10 or Oracle Solaris 11 OS.

Network Virtualization

The Oracle Solaris 11.3 OS provides support for several of the following network virtualization features, some of which implement new IEEE standards: