Oracle Solaris Zones, also known as Oracle Solaris Containers, are used to virtualize operating systems and provide an isolated and secure environment for running software applications. A zone is a virtualized operating system environment created within a single instance of the Oracle Solaris operating system.
Think of a zone as a box with flexible, software-defined walls. One or more applications can run in this box without interacting with the rest of the system. Because zones isolate software applications or services, applications that are running in the same instance of the Oracle Solaris OS are managed independently of each other. For example, you can run different versions of the same application in separate zones. Zones require a machine that is running at least an Oracle Solaris 10 operating system. Solaris 11 global zone and Solaris 10 update 11 global zones are supported.
The global zone is the default operating system and has control over all of the processes and has system-wide administrative control. The global zone oversees the CPU, memory, and network resource allocation of all of the non-global zones. A global zone always exists, even when no other zones are configured.
Non-global zones, or simply zones, are configured inside the global zone. Zones are isolated from the physical hardware by the virtual platform layer. A zone cannot detect the existence of other zones.
Kernel zones are zones that implement virtualization from within the global zone's operating system kernel. Each kernel zone has a separate kernel from the global zone, its own file systems and user space. Configuration of each zone (including the global zone) puts limits on the CPU, memory and I/O resources available to the zone. Kernel zones are supported beginning with Solaris 11.2. A kernel zone enables you to deploy a non-global zone with its own operating system kernel instance. The non-global zone has a different kernel version to the global zone. You can create one level of non-kernel zones inside kernel zones.
The following types of non-global zones are available with Oracle Solaris:
Native zone: A separate Solaris 10 or Solaris 11 instance with the same version of Solaris as the global zone. You cannot create nested zones.
Solaris 10 branded zone: An independent Solaris 10 instance running inside a Solaris 11 global zone, providing a migration path for existing Solaris 10 deployments. Nested non-global zones are not supported.
Kernel Zone: Runs a separate kernel version inside the non-global zone. A kernel zone is fully independent operating system instance, which enables you to create nested (non-kernel) zones within the kernel zone. Kernel zones are available beginning with the Oracle Solaris 11.2 release.
Zones are represented by an icon in the user interface. Different types of zones, such as global zone, kernel zone, and non-global zones, have different icons.
You can monitor the following Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 global zones and their non-global zones through the Enterprise Manager user interface.
Solaris 10 global zones running native Solaris 10 non-global zones
Solaris 11 global zones running branded Solaris 10 non-global zones
Solaris 11 global zones running native Solaris 11 non-global zones
Solaris 11 global zones running Solaris 11 kernel zones
Enterprise Manager supports the following types of virtualization:
Oracle Solaris Zones: operating system virtualization
Oracle VM Server for SPARC: hardware virtualization on a SPARC platform
You can view zones within any type of logical domain on a SPARC platform.
The hypervisor is responsible for managing one or more non-global zones. A non-global zone is represented as its operating system instance deployed on a virtual server which is given a subset of the CPU, memory and I/O resources which are available from the physical server, and/or some virtual resources (such as virtual disks or networks) which are backed by configured resources from the global zone. The global zone always exists and is the controlling zone for the non-global zones.