Servers Tip of the Trade: Solaris BrandZ

Tip of the Trade: Solaris BrandZ

The relentless march toward virtualization of all kinds on every platform continues, so today we’re taking a look at Solaris BrandZ. BrandZ means “Branded Zones,” which are extensions of Zones (which is just another name for Solaris Containers) for hosting unmodified non-native userspace application binaries. BrandZ is a framework designed to be flexible for whatever non-Solaris binaries you want to stick in there. The term “Brand” is bit confusing, as it usually implies brand names. A Solaris brand, however, is an isolated execution environment, which plugs into the larger BrandZ framework.

If you’re looking for an easy way to run Linux applications on Solaris and aren’t ready to go whole hog with virtualization, consider Solaris BrandZ. The flexible framework lets you play host to unmodified non-native userspace application binaries.

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The operating system layer is virtualized, and because it’s inside a Container, you get privacy, security and failure isolation. Each brand must be tailored for whatever it’s going to host. Solaris Containers for Linux Applications (SCLA), obviously, is for Linux applications. This is still in beta and available as a development preview for OpenSolaris. SCLA includes extensions for Red Hat or CentOS Linux “personalities,” which means any binaries that run on these should also run unmodified under SCLA. SCLA can potentially support any Linux distribution, or even free Unixes such as FreeBSD.

BrandZ is not a full virtualizer or emulator. Everything runs on a Solaris kernel, and you can’t just fling any old Linux binary at it and expect it to work. There is no support for anything dependent on the Linux kernel, such as Linux filesystems, device drivers or kernel modules.

Why would you want to use SCLA? Sun hopes you will use it as part of a migration strategy from Linux to Solaris. So if you have a key application that runs only on Linux but you really want to move to Solaris, this gives you a smooth migration path. Or, if you’re already a Solaris shop, you can run Linux applications not available for Solaris. Visit OpenSolaris Community: BrandZ to learn more.

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