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Clear Thoughts on Cloudy Subjects

Musings about the Xen Project, Clouds, virtualization, Open Source, and everything else that piques my technical interest.

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Russell Pavlicek

Russell Pavlicek

Russ is the evangelist for the Xen Project. An Open Source advocate since 1995, he has been around the Open Source world as a columnist, Internet radio personality, book author, and blogger. He has spoken at over 50 Open Source events and continues to look for conferences to speak about Open Source in general, and Xen in particular (if you have an event in mind, contact him). He first began working with Cloud technologies in 2004. He also has over 20 years experience of software consulting.

Historically, the computer industry has been impressed with big things.  In the early decades, the mainframes and supercomputers were all the rage.  Even as the technology began to shrink, big rollouts supplanted the big machines.  And now you can find powerful technology which easily fits in the palm of your hand -- but you've probably only heard of the brands which sell in huge numbers.

This industry likes big things.  But sometimes the greatest value comes from the smallest things.  That can certainly be said of Open Source conferences.

Good Things Really Do Come in Small Packages

I've spoken at several dozen Open Source conferences over the years.  I remember when LinuxWorld Conference and Expo was all the rage a decade ago.  It had thousands of attendees, gigantic booths, a huge amount of swag, and plenty of press coverage.  With all its lights and noise, that conference was something to behold.

But I don't find myself wishing I could revisit those days. Instead, I find myself enjoying the smaller, community-driven, regional conferences.  These conferences aren't large, aren't noisy, and don't come with mountains of swag to take home, but they provide attendees with something much more valuable: the equipment to succeed.

It varies from conference to conference, but most of these local conferences include two very important elements: excellent information and local networking. 

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Great Session Lineup Awaits Attendees in New York City!

xpus-join_us-2014

It’s time to make your travel plans to New York City for the September 15 arrival of the Xen Project User Summit!

The Lighthouse Executive Conference Center will play host to the only full day user-centric Xen Project event on this year’s calendar.

Attendees will find an excellent selection of talks waiting for them at this year’s event.

Is Your Head in the Clouds?

We have a number of terrific cloud-related talks on the schedule!

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If you use -- or are just interested in learning about -- the Xen Project Hypervisor, you will want to mark your calendar now for two great events coming later this summer.

September 15: Xen Project User Summit, New York City, NY

The Xen Project User Summit is great for:

  • Users who employ Xen Project software in their datacenter or cloud
  • Integrators who leverage the Xen Project Hypervisor in their solution or service
  • Architects who need to know how to best utilize the software in their solution architecture
  • Managers who want to understand what current and future features will enable their goals

At just US$79 for one day of sessions, the User Summit is an unmatched training opportunity for users of Xen Project software. Located at the Lighthouse Executive Conference Center in the heart of New York City, this event is a fantastic way to increase your knowledge of all things relating to Xen Project.  The lineup of talks will be unlike any other event this year, so it makes sense to take a long weekend in Manhattan in September.

Plus, this will be the best event this year for Xen Project users to meet and greet one another.  Excellent things happen when the talents of the community are allowed to cross-pollinate at User Summit!

Expected topics will include:

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If you use the Xen Project Hypervisor, you have a rare opportunity to share what you've learned with your peers.  On September 15, 2014 in New York City, we will be holding our second annual Xen Project User Summit -- and we want you to join us there!

We are looking for talk proposals which will be of interest to other Xen Project users.  Subjects of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • How you use our project’s software in your datacenter or lab
  • How you integrate the Xen Project hypervisor in your solution or cloud
  • How you control the software with custom scripts or utilities
  • Why you chose Xen Project software instead of some other hypervisor
  • How much you time or money you saved by using our software
  • Where you’d like to see our project go in the future

Also, we’d welcome talks about:

  • Features of recent releases and how you use them
  • New projects building on Xen Project software which could open new avenues for end users (like the work around GPU virtualization, cloud operating systems like MirageOS, and additional architectures like ARM)
  • Instructive HowTo sessions to educate attendees about implementing particular capabilities within the software
  • The use of related products and projects (like XenServer, Xen Orchestra, CloudStack, etc.) to make our software even more powerful in the datacenter

 

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Next Generation High Density App Servers Don't Require Scrapping Your Hypervisor

Recently, I sat in a conference session extolling the seemingly endless virtues of Linux Containers.  I heard claims that hypervisors were old hat: ancient bloated engines which rely on inefficient replication of a large operating system stack in order to serve up applications.  The speaker painted a picture of a future where hundreds of applications are virtualized on each piece of hardware.  "What is really needed," glowed the speaker, "is a lightweight, efficient means of serving up application: containers."

Containers are cool, but not a panacea

Containers share the same kernel as the host, so they are not burdened with the extra memory and CPU cycles it costs to replicate a full operating system stack in a hypervisor scenario.  Compared to hypervisor-generated virtual machines, containers can be fast and lean.  But they are also limited.  

Since Linux containers share the same kernel as the host, it is impossible to run Windows.  Or FreeBSD. Or NetBSD.   Or another version of the Linux kernel.  Or another Linux distribution which requires a different kernel.  All of those scenarios are best handled by a real hypervisor.  And the security aspect of hypervisors is huge, worthy of a separate blog entry of its own.  Still, if you need an environment within your organization where many workloads can leverage a single kernel environment, containers can be a viable solution.

However, some of the most vocal container advocates insist that these problems relating to containers are really application problems in disguise.  Issues about kernel support and security are the results of improper application design, they claim.  When we raise the bar on applications so that they are based solely on access to application servers, then the objections to containers will melt away -- and so will hypervisors, for the most part.  Or that's what some of these advocates claim, at least.

The death of the hypervisor is greatly exaggerated

But is there another scenario which could answer the call for highly responsive and lightweight virtual instances which does not use the container solution?  Maybe one that can actually leverage the flexibility and security which is part and parcel with most hypervisors?

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Open@Citrix

Citrix supports the open source community via developer support and evangeslism. We have a number of developers and evangelists that participate actively in the open source community in Apache Cloudstack, OpenDaylight, Xen Project and XenServer. We also conduct educational activities via the Build A Cloud events held all over the world. 

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