All Suns Containers, Great and Small

Data centers-to-go and virtualization options are compelling

Last week, I attended the launch of Suns "Project Blackbox," an intriguing new product offering that squeezes a couple of hundred rack-mounted servers—along with their requisite cooling systems and cabling—into the sort of container you see loaded on trucks or stacked on ships.

The quick tour I took through the Project Blackbox container set up in the parking lot of Suns Menlo Park, Calif., campus was certainly impressive. But at least as impressive—and much more broadly accessible—were the sorts of containers that Sun outlined in the virtualization presentation that kicked off the day.

Sun officials highlighted for the assembled members of the press the companys slate of virtualization offerings—which range from physical partitioning on Suns largest machines to new logical partitioning capabilities on its smaller CoolThreads servers to operating-system-level virtualization using Solaris 10s Containers feature. Weve been impressed with Solaris Containers in our tests so far (see my review of Solaris 10 6/06 on Page 41), and Im looking forward to testing Suns CoolThreads logical partitioning.

The compelling thing about Suns virtualization story is its flexibility with regard to operating systems and applications. Suns SPARC-based partitioning can allow Ubuntu and Gentoo Linux to coexist with Solaris on the same box, and Sun pitched support for VMwares systems on its x64 servers as an answer for carving out a spot for Microsoft Windows.

Sun officials also talked about forthcoming support for Xen virtualization on Suns x64 systems. When Xen eventually becomes part of Solaris, it will offer the same sort of logical partitioning on Advanced Micro Devices Opteron machines that Sun described for its "Niagara" boxes. Also not quite ready for prime time but more mature at this point than Solaris Xen support is Solaris support for Linux applications via branded Containers.

Advanced Technologies Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

WWWeb Resources

Presenting ...

Watch the same "Project Blackbox" unveiling we did

Get into the zone

Suns Web zone for virtualization

Zen and the art of OpenSolaris

Suns OpenSolaris page on Xen