Running Solaris on Azure VMs: How Charon-SSP Makes it Possible?

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    If your organization is still using a legacy system like Solaris SPARC, you know the risks and costs of maintaining it. Right?

    So, instead of relying on this aging system, why not consider running it on an Azure Virtual Machine? This can reduce risk and cost while optimizing your Solaris workloads.

    With our Charon-SSP emulator, you can seamlessly run Solaris-based systems on Azure. It creates virtual replicas of Sun-4m, Sun-4u, and Sun-4v SPARC servers on standard x86-64 Linux physical machines or hypervisors.

    As a Microsoft partner, our engineers collaborate closely with the Azure team to guide businesses step-by-step through the entire migration process. Leveraging our expertise and Azure’s robust cloud infrastructure, you can move your Solaris workloads to Azure without any modifications.

    This article demonstrates the entire process, highlighting how Charon-SSP enables businesses to run Solaris on Azure efficiently. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

    Why Choose Charon-SSP to Modernize Solaris on Azure Cloud?

    When talking about running Solaris on Azure Cloud, Charon stands out as a top choice for several reasons.

    First, it provides a safety net for legacy application modernization. Moving to the cloud can seem daunting at first, especially with older applications. But with Charon, you can rest easy knowing these applications will run smoothly because it gives you the freedom to plan and modernize at your own pace.

    Second, it helps significantly lower maintenance costs. With Charon, you can reduce the resources needed to maintain legacy systems, freeing up the budget for other important areas.

    Another major advantage is ultra-fast backups. In the cloud, Charon enables swift backup processes, ensuring your data is secure and easily recoverable.

    Moreover, it eliminates those hefty capital expenditures. You don’t have to worry about costly hardware upgrades and maintenance anymore. Consequently, you save a lot of money.

    Business continuity and disaster recovery are also crucial. Charon excels here. It ensures a higher availability and stronger recovery options. It also minimizes downtime and protects your operations from disruptions.

    solaris on azure

    Emulating Solaris on Azure: Rehost and Refactor Paths

    On the left, the big red section represents your legacy hardware: Solaris SPARC. It’s your current environment stack.

    Above it, you have the software stack that includes the OS, application, and database, which you need to preserve (the blue section). To modernize, you simply replace the red hardware with an Azure virtual machine (providing a modern x86 environment).

    Then, on top of that, you put Linux and then our Charon emulator, which is our Stromasys emulator. Above it, you take the blue bits, the application, the database, and Solaris. Here, you just lift and shift it across, and you place that in the Azure clouds without any modification or recompilation.

    The next day, the users log in using the same screen, the same user ID, and the same password. Nothing has changed.

    You might be wondering how long this process takes. To answer this, there are two aspects to consider – user experience and duration of the work.

    • User Experience: For users, we plan this transition in such a way that minimizes failover. Often, there is no failover at all, or it happens for a few hours at night. For users, it just feels like everything is ready the next day.
    • The Duration of the Work: It varies from customer to customer. It might take a few days or much longer, depending on the customer’s readiness and change management process. If you, as a customer, know exactly what you want, where you want to go, how you plan to get there, identifying pain points, security issues that we all need to be aware of, and the details of the move—the process will be smoother. We just sit with the Azure engineering team, plan the architecture step by step, and make it happen. However, for larger organizations that go through multiple internal approvals, it can be a bit of a time taking process.

    Ultimately, the Azure engineering team knows our software inside out. We collaborate closely with them, especially during the design phase, and guide the user step-by-step.

    This is how Solaris migration to Azure happens when you have a trusted partner like Stromasys at your disposal. Legacy System Migration to Cloud is simple. Isn’t it? It’s lifting your Solaris workloads and shifting them to the Azure cloud.

    Migration Guide

    Running Solaris on Azure is not as difficult as you think. To get this up and running, much of it involves setting up basic Azure components. This includes optimizing your virtual network, virtual machines, and base Linux environment.

    Once you have that foundation, you have your networking figured out and your IP addresses mapped out; installing the Charon emulator is simple. And you can get up and run quickly.

    From there, the actual migration itself can be as simple as doing a UFS dump backup, which is a Solaris and Unix term for doing a data backup of your source environment and then bringing that over.

    There are many ways of getting data into Azure, whether that is using command line tools like azcopy or if you are on ExpressRoute. Other options include Azure Data Box for large amounts of data or even having a physical crate of hard disks shipped to your data center.

    Once set up using Solaris, the process can be very quick and simple for a few environments. However, for hundreds or thousands, it is subjected to the management process. But once you have the process figured out for a few environments, it becomes repetitive.

    It’s like buying a new laptop – whether you’re buying one or 10,000, the basic idea is similar.


    This architecture shows the bits and pieces of how Solaris SPARC works in Azure.

    Solaris SPARC in Azure


    Walking through it from left to right, first, you have your on-premises users. They don’t see a difference, whether it’s on-premises or in Azure, especially with ExpressRoute or a site-to-site VPN. They log into these servers through SSH or a desktop emulation protocol and do the same thing as they did previously.

    The IP address may change or may not change depending on how the network architecture is. Also, there are options around that help to keep the IP addresses the same in the target environment.

    Now, moving toward the right, the image depicts the decomposing and scaling of an environment across multiple Azure VMs. The three blocks with blue desktop icons are Azure VMs running Linux, typically Red Hat or CentOS.

    The two on the right show nested VMs, a feature of the Charon SSP emulator. Depending on your source environment’s performance profile, you might have a one-to-one or one-to-many VM ratio for cost savings.

    Another important detail to point out here is network interface cards.
    Each child VM has a dedicated IP address, even though they’re within the parent VM. This is done by adding more network interface cards to the parent VM, making it seem like another Azure VM.

    On the far left, we have the SSP Director and SSP Manager. Charon-SSP provides these tools to oversee your portfolio of child VMs. They allow you to manage all VMs from one area, turning them on and off and checking their stats.

    Next, the architecture has SSD-managed disks for premium performance.

    Lastly, an Azure storage account can be used for virtual tape emulation. This allows you to store tape archives in Azure Storage, leveraging its petabyte-scale and low-cost storage with replication.

    Demo: How to Use Solaris on Azure?

    Now that you know how to migrate Solaris to Azure let us show you a demo of how it works. Watch the video where our engineer provides a real-time demonstration.

    Benefits of Stromasys Charon-SSP Solaris Emulator on Azure VMs

    Switching your SPARC Solaris workloads to Azure is simple with the Stromasys Charon-SSP emulator. Here are some benefits:

    • It allows you to smoothly lift and shift from your on-premises SPARC machines to Azure. Thus, you can keep everything intact without any major changes.
    • You can keep using your trusted applications running on end-of-life SPARC stations or SPARC servers just as they are. No need to worry about compatibility issues or extensive rewrites. It’s all about minimizing disruption while transitioning to a modern cloud infrastructure.
    • Another key feature is managing multiple server hosts (centralized management) and Solaris VMs from one easy-to-use interface. Centralized control simplifies operations and boosts efficiency.
    • Moreover, you can leverage low-cost Azure storage to map and archive tapes for regulatory and compliance needs. This capability ensures that you meet legal requirements without breaking the bank on storage costs.

    Over to You…

    Ready to move your Solaris workloads to Azure? If your company still relies on Solaris SPARC, you know the risks and costs involved. Running Solaris on Azure Virtual Machines offers better performance, lower costs, and reduced risks of running outdated software.

    Thanks to Charon on the cloud, you can seamlessly run Solaris on Azure without any reengineering.
    So, it’s not the end for your SPARC Solaris systems. Talk to our experts for more details.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can you run Solaris in Azure?

    Absolutely, you can run Solaris on Azure with the Charon-SSP emulator from Stromasys. This emulator lets you set up a virtual environment to support Solaris applications. So, you get the benefit of Azure’s cloud infrastructure while still using your old software.

    2. Typically, how much time does this process take?

    It depends on the business. Ideally, migrations take us three days per server. Or it can take months of planning because the client has many different departments. The legal team, security team, stakeholders, and management all need to approve everything. So, for large organizations, it can be a time-consuming process.

    3. What is Stromasys Charon-SSP?

    Stromasys Charon-SSP is an emulator that allows you to run legacy Solaris applications on modern hardware or cloud environments, preserving your existing software investments.

    4. What are the key benefits of using Charon-SSP on Azure VMs?

    The main benefits are reducing risk and streamlining businesses. Additionally, it saves hardware costs, improves scalability, ensures high availability, and takes advantage of Azure’s services and security features.

    5. How does Charon-SSP emulate Solaris environments?

    Charon-SSP creates a virtual environment that mimics the hardware architecture of original Solaris servers. Thus, running Solaris on Azure will become seamless without the need for modifications.