Sun Adds Dynamic Partitioning to "Midframe" Servers

Allows systems to upscale while in use

Sun Microsystems Inc.said today it had extended its Dynamic Systems Domains technology to its"Midframe" line of midrange Unix servers.

The technology allows multiple instances of Solaris torun concurrently on a single machine, dedicating resources to a particularapplication. In addition, Sun’s Dynamic Reconfiguration technology enablesadministrators to add resources - CPU and memory units or I/O controllers – whileapplications are running. This allows systems to scale up to largerconfigurations while keeping the application available to users.

Sun first introduced Dynamic Systems Domains in 1997 onits Enterprise 10,000 high-end server. According to Sun’s Steve Campbell,senior director of marketing, enterprise systems products, it is the first Unixvendor to bring partitioning technology to midrange Unix servers. “It’s reallya breakthrough at this price point,” he says.

Unlike mainframe partitions, which are independent ofhardware, Dynamic System Domains are tied to blocks of CPUs and memory. Thesmallest partition is the size of one block. Regardless, this is a step up forSun’s midrange customers. Previously, if a customer bought an 8-way server itcould only run in an 8-way configuration.

Marwan Zeineddine, director ofJNI Corp.’s Systems Integration Labs uses Sun servers with Dynamic SystemDomains to test customer configurations. JNI makes high-performance Host-BusAdapters for SANs, and Zeineddine’s department ensures the hardware and driversare compatible with the customer’s environment.

Zeineddine says his team needs to reconfigure serverson a daily basis, and the ability to add configure domains without rebootingsaves his team a lot of time. In addition, since Sun’s “Midframe” servers allowadministrators to add CPU and memory units while the server is running, he cantest different numbers of processors on the same machine.

Campbell believes testing is an ideal application ofDynamic Systems Domains. He believes some customers will run a productionapplication on one domain while testing another application on a separatedomain. “All domains are treated as equals running multiple instances ofSolaris,” he says. If one domain crashes, it will not take the entire machinedown.

In addition, users can run different versions ofSolaris on different domains. If an application is stable without the latestpatch, users can avoid risking stability by not patching the partition, whilepatching unstable partions.

Sun also positions Dynamic Systems Domains as a meansfor server consolidation. Users can reduce the complexity of their environmentsby running multiple servers and applications on a single machine.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.