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18th Large Installation System Administration Conference — Abstract

Pp. 241–254 of the Proceedings

Solaris Zones: Operating System Support for Consolidating Commercial Workloads

Daniel Price and Andrew Tucker, Sun Microsystems, Inc.


Server consolidation, which allows multiple workloads to run on the same system, has become increasingly important as a way to improve the utilization of computing resources and reduce costs. Consolidation is common in mainframe environments, where technology to support running multiple workloads and even multiple operating systems on the same hardware has been evolving since the late 1960's. This technology is now becoming an important differentiator in the UNIX and Linux server market as well, both at the low end (virtual web hosting) and high end (traditional data center server consolidation).

This paper introduces Solaris Zones (zones), a fully realized solution for server consolidation projects in a commercial UNIX operating system. By creating virtualized application execution environments within a single instance of the operating system, the facility strikes a unique balance between competing requirements. On the one hand, a system with multiple workloads needs to run those workloads in isolation, to ensure that applications can neither observe data from other applications nor affect their operation. It must also prevent applications from over-consuming system resources. On the other hand, the system as a whole has to be flexible, manageable, and observable, in order to reduce administrative costs and increase efficiency. By focusing on the support of multiple application environments rather than multiple operating system instances, zones meets isolation requirements without sacrificing manageability.

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