N1 Grid Containers is a breakthrough approach to virtualization with multiple software partitions per single instance of the operating system. To reduce the complexity and cost of managing multiple servers, system administrators are consolidating applications onto fewer servers. In doing so, it becomes increasingly important for them to have the ability to maintain isolation between the applications. Sun has introduced a new concept called N1 Grid Containers that offers the ability to isolate applications using flexible, software-defined boundaries. N1 Grid Containers make consolidation simple, safe, and secure. The N1 Grid Containers software provides:
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Solaris OS Resource Manager
A key component of N1 Grid Containers is resource management. The Solaris OS Resource Manager software, integrated into the Solaris 9 OS, helps system administrators manage system resources more effectively. It enables system administrators to control resources, such as CPU, physical memory, and network bandwidth, to multiple users or applications to provide more predictable service levels. No single user or application is allowed to monopolize the system resources and impact others sharing the same system.
The Solaris OS Resource Manager also enables system administrators to monitor resource consumption and to obtain accounting information for billing purposes. It redefines the traditional model of hosting one application per system and offers a flexible solution that enables the consolidation of servers to reduce service level cost, while delivering more predictable service levels.
Solaris Resource Manager 1.3 is available for Solaris 2.6, 7, and 8 OS systems. Most of the features of the Solaris Resource Manager software were integrated into the core Solaris 9 OS.
To use system resources more efficiently, system administrators need a method for classifying application services and keeping track of their respective resource consumption. The Solaris 9 OS enables system administrators to classify application services into "projects" and establish resource control limits at the project level.
The project is simply a tag used to classify a service that is made up of a single application, user, or group of applications or users (for example, a specific database instance). The system administrator also has the ability to identify a specific job (for example, a query to a specific database instance) within a project using tasks. With projects and tasks, system administrators can track resource usage down to a more granular level.
In the Solaris OS Resource Manager, resource allocation policies are stored in the project name service database, which can be a local file or a Network Information Service (NIS) or LDAP database on a central server. This provides system administrators with the ability to centrally control the resource allocation configuration of a group of securely distributed machines, reducing the cost of administering multiple systems.
UNIX systems have traditionally provided a resource limit facility that enables system administrators to set numerical limits on the amount of resources a process can consume. With the Solaris OS Resource Manager, system administrators can establish resource limits on a per-task and per-project basis. With the resource control mechanism, system administrators can prevent applications from exhausting the available resources, leading to more manageable and predictable service levels.
With the Solaris OS Resource Manager, system administrators can use the "fair-share scheduler" to allocate available CPU resources among projects, based on their business priority. The priority is expressed by the number of shares of CPU resources assigned for each project. System administrators can assign a larger number of shares to a project that has a higher priority relative to the other projects to ensure that the higher-priority project receives more CPU resources.
Today, vendors and businesses are developing pricing models to offer their customers "pay as you go" capabilities. The metering and monitoring capabilities offered by the Solaris OS Resource Manager plays a major role in accounting for these usage needs. With the Solaris OS Resource Manager, system administrators can obtain detailed resource usage information to track resource consumption. The accounting information is available through public APIs and can be processed by third-party accounting packages for resource charge back, workload monitoring, or capacity planning purposes.
Ease of Use
The Solaris OS Resource Manager can be managed by either a CLI, an API, or a GUI. The resource manager monitors system performance and configures resource allocation policies. The GUI provides a convenient and secure alternative to the command-line interface for managing hundreds of configuration parameters.
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Solaris OS Container Strategy
N1 Grid Containers is the realization of a strategy that has been evolving for a number of years. Previously described as the Solaris Container strategy, it is worthwhile to understand that the implementation of N1 Grid Containers is not something that has just happened. Through careful and meticulous evolution, the Solaris OS has been building and integrating various features that support the end goal of containers. To truly understand the value and flexibility provided by an N1 Grid Containers implementation, you need to review the overall strategy.
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