Exploring VMs

After posting a few days ago some thoughts on virtual machine technology, and spending lots of time thinking about how to leverage commercial services such as Amazon's EC2, I was talking with Kate Keahey from Argonne, who has been working in this area for a while. She gave me a very nice summary of work in the Globus Alliance that I thought would be worth sharing here:

One of the advantages of using virtual machines is the ability to easily and efficiently deploy desired software environments encapsulated in a VM image. This allows resource users to configure the virtual machine images themselves and deploy them on a VM-enabled platform made available by a resource provider. Another feature of interest is that VM tools offer capabilities allowing a resource provider to guarantee the delivery of specific resource quota (in terms of memory, CPU%, disk, bandwidth, etc.) to a VM -- this facilitates implementing sharing and accounting between different clients. The Globus Virtual Workspaces project leverages these capabilities to provide such controlled sharing and configuration independence (see a recent paper).
The configuration and performance isolation implemented by virtual machines enables a division of labor between resource provider and consumer which has the potential to significantly contribute to the growth and scalability of Grids.

The advantages of using virtual machines in Grid and generally distributed computing are still emerging as new hypervisor capabilities and new requirements emerge. The VTDC06 workshop, co-hosted with SC06 this year, brings together the virtualization and distributed computing communities to discuss the potential of virtualization in resource management, scheduling, security and service hosting.


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