Profoss / Events / January 2008: Virtualisation / Speakers / Duncan Hardie

Duncan Hardie

Speaker Details
Name Duncan Hardie
Title Solaris Product Manager
Company Sun

Duncan Hardie has been with Sun Microsystems for the last 10 years. Starting off in engineering working on device drivers for fault tolerant products he has moved through the company spending his time in customer facing roles positioning and delivering solutions in monitoring, High Performance Computing and latterly virtualization. Now a Solaris Product Manager, responsible for virtualization, Duncan works to help define, deliver and position Solaris virtualization products.


Does deployment of virtualisation have a big impact on a company's infrastructure?

As with any change in a company's infrastructure each phase must be carefully planned and considered. The flexibility of virtualization and the different technologies means that the impact on a company's infrastructure can be understood and managed. This can be done in many different ways, understanding the problem, limiting the size of the implementation, having a staged roll-out, engaging with knowledge experts to maximize the return - all issues already familiar to those working in the data centre world. Sun has and is helping many companies make this change as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Wouldn't the infrastructure changes cost more than virtualisation saves?

There are many different drivers for virtualization: utilization, power & cooling, flexibility, disaster recovery, sprawling infrastructures are some examples. Each of these have their own associated savings and benefits when addressed with virtualization which on balance make the change attractive to customers. The goal is therefore to understand the needs of the data centre and which virtualization technologies will assist solve those problems. For example, let us consider hypothetical company that has run out of space in it's data centre (not as unusual as you would think). Using virtualization allows them to quickly consolidate underutilized, legacy systems onto newer more efficient hardware saving them space and power but also allowing them to continue to expand and grow their business. Sun has already gone through this process internally and at one of it's data centres reduced the cooling requirement by 87% alone!

Is the infrastructure actually simplified or does it become more complex?

It is sometimes positioned that virtualization adds in a layer of complexity, however, complexity is already addressed in today's growing data centers by the addition of management tools. Virtualization is no different and the management story requires careful attention. To this end Sun has introducing xVM Ops Centre to simplify management and monitoring from bare metal provisioning to control of your virtualized infrastructure.

Is it wise to use multiple virtualisation solutions in one data center?

One of the key decisions when looking at system virtualization is to decide on the appropriate mix of virtualization technologies. As with anything else virtualization is a tool and selecting the appropriate tool for the job is vital. As a simple example, if the functionality of Solaris containers meets your requirements then why pay the overhead and sacrifice the scalability by implementing a hypervisor to run virtual machines? However you may have the requirement to run multiple differing OSes which would mandate hypervisor type technology. Of course there is always the option to mix the technologies on one system, for example Sun has many customers that combine the benefits of Dynamic Domains and Solaris Containers. OpenSolaris has multiple virtualisation features. What's the difference between Zones and Containers? Solaris Containers is the combination of zones and resource management i.e. in simple terms zones provides the isolation with resource management providing the constraints. Containers pulls these two areas together.

Why add Xen to the mix?


Sun has looked to provide choice and best fit technology to customers by offering a comprehensive suite of virtualization products. If we take system virtualization as an example, by adding the xVM hypervisor (based on the work of the Xen community) Sun is now able to provide Virtual Machine (VM) functionality on x64 platforms. This complements VM functionality on Niagara platforms provided by Logical Domains, hardware partitioning provided by Dynamic Domains and the OS virtualization of Solaris Containers.

In addition by working closely with other companies such as Microsoft and Redhat Sun is able to ensure not only that Solaris will run well as a guest on their virtualization technology but also that their OSes will run well as guests on the xVM hypervisor.

This all adds together to provide fantastic choice and capability to the customer allowing selection of the appropriate technology to meet today's business challenges.


There's a lot of (marketing) talk about xVM, who is it for?

xVM Infrastructure brings together an integrated virtualization solution combining management and hypervisor technologies in one product. Whilst it is possible to pull together these features from separate sources xVM Infrastuture will be pre-integrated with and allow rapid deployment and full support in today's enterprise data centre.

Are there already usable xVM components available?


Absolutely, xVM Ops Centre is available now though the virtualization management features will not be available till a later release. In addition functionality will become available as part of the OpenxVM community, check out to join the community and get involved.

As to the xVM Server portion the individual features, Logical Domains and xVM Hypervisor, are also both available. For Logical Domains, provided you have the right Niagara CMT enabled hardware, the software is available as part of OpenSolaris. For xVM Hypervisor, this has been available for download in OpenSolaris since build 75a.

Again there are OpenSolaris communities available for both these features and I would encourage anyone to check them out and get involved: