Tuesday, April 2, 2024

SmartOS – The Converged Container and Virtual Machine Hypervisor for the Modern Data Cente

Many small businesses and organizations, including nonprofit, will have to soon make a difficult choice and turn into something else for their datacenter virtualization solution. Broadcom with their licensing changes not only increasing the prices (some service providers have seen but also simply suppressing certain licenses offering altogether.

Many alternatives have reached enterprise level with enterprise class virtualization features such as High Availabilty or live migration. One of the alternatives to VMware is this one called SmartOS which is a free and open-source SVR4 hypervisor that is based on UNIX operating system. The base system combines OpenSolaris technology with Linux’s KVM virtualization. It uses NetBSD pkgsrc package management.

SmartOS is state-of-the-art hypervisor that converges containers and virtual machines (VMs) into a single, powerful platform.

What is SmartOS?

SmartOS is an open-source, SVR hypervisor based on the UNIX operating system. It integrates OpenSolaris technology with bhyve and KVM virtualization, creating a robust environment for deploying both containers and VMs.

SmartOS is designed to be lightweight yet powerful, providing the security, networking, and storage capabilities expected from a hardware hypervisor while optimizing container delivery.

SmartOS is a hypervisor platform based on illumos (Unix).

SmartOS is a hypervisor platform based on illumos (Unix)

It supports two types of virtualizations:

  • OS Virtual Machines (Zones, Containers) – A light-weight virtualization solution offering a complete and secure userland environment on a single global kernel, offering true bare metal performance and all the features illumos has, namely dynamic introspection via DTrace
  • Hardware Virtual Machines (KVM, Bhyve): A full virtualization solution for running a variety of guest OS’s including Linux, Windows, BSD, Plan9 and more

SmartOS is a LIVE Operating System, which means that it is always booted via PXE, ISO or USB key and then runs from memory. Your local disks can be then used for hosting VMs.

The underlying Illumos has some awesome and industry recognized technologies such as:

  • ZFS for storage virtualization
  • Crossbow (dladm) for network virtualization
  • Zones for virtualization and containment
  • DTrace for introspection
  • SMF for service management
  • RBAC/BSM for auditing and role-based security

Convergence of Containers and VMs

One of the key features of SmartOS is its ability to run containers and VMs side by side. This convergence offers the best of both worlds: the speed and efficiency of containers and the full isolation and resource control of VMs.

SmartOS achieves this through its unique design, which includes Zones – a hardened container runtime environment that doesn’t rely on VM hosts for security.

Secure Containers

Security is a top concern in virtualization, and SmartOS addresses this with secure containers that provide full isolation in a multi-tenant environment. Each container operates with its own set of resources, ensuring that no container can interfere with another.

This isolation is further enhanced by patented resource protections that guarantee fair I/O distribution among containers.

Resource protections that guarantee fair I/O distribution among containers

Built-in Networking and Storage

SmartOS simplifies networking by assigning each container a unique IP address, eliminating the need for complex overlay networks. Additionally, it offers built-in storage capabilities, providing secure, isolated, and resizable filesystems for each container.

These features streamline the deployment and management of applications, making SmartOS an attractive option for system administrators that are looking for expensive VMware/Broadcom alternatives.

Bare Metal Performance

Despite its virtualization capabilities, SmartOS delivers bare metal performance. Containers run directly on the hardware without the overhead typically associated with VMs. This results in faster startup times, lower latency, and overall improved performance.

Despite its virtualization capabilities, SmartOS delivers bare metal performance

Triton Compute and Triton DataCenter

SmartOS serves as the engine behind Triton Compute and Triton DataCenter, orchestration solutions that transform virtualization landscapes.

Triton Compute introduces an orchestration layer that handles complex tasks, optimizes operations, and enhances performance. Triton DataCenter, on the other hand, is designed for extensive enterprise-level deployments and management, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for modern data centers.

Open Source and Community-Driven

As an open-source platform, SmartOS benefits from a vibrant community of developers and users who contribute to its continuous improvement. The SmartOS Wiki and documentation provide valuable resources for those looking to get started or dive deeper into its features.

You can easily download the installation ISO from the community repo Github here.

Open Source and Community-Driven

Final Words

SmartOS represents a significant advancement in the field of virtualization. Its convergence of containers and VMs, coupled with its security, networking, and storage features, make it a compelling choice for organizations seeking to optimize their data center operations. As the demand for efficient and flexible virtualization solutions grows, SmartOS is well-positioned to lead the way in innovation and performance.

In summary, SmartOS is not just another hypervisor, but rather a forward-thinking solution that addresses the needs of modern cloud computing. Its ability to deliver containers with the robustness of a hardware hypervisor, all while maintaining bare metal performance, sets it apart as a premier choice for any organization looking to future-proof its infrastructure. Definitely an interesting solution to explore.

from StarWind Blog https://ift.tt/1579Ey6

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