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 75 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.

Docker Was Just the Beginning; See What Comes Next...

Lots of people know that projects like Docker are changing the way people look at the cloud.  But fewer people realize that Docker is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a whole group of technologies which are making the future of the cloud a whole lot clearer.  These include:

  • Unikernels: VMs that are smaller and faster than Docker, but are much more secure
  • OpenStack enablement: A way to take OpenStack from zero to cloud in minutes, not weeks
  • Docker enablement: A new engine to deploy VMs just like containers, and another engine which builds an entire server provisioning infrastructure in minutes
  • Security: New ways to make JVM payloads secure in the cloud
  • Graphics processor virtualization: Bringing high-speed graphics applications to VMs
  • Embedded hypervisors: Taking virtualization and cloud capabilities to places they've never gone before


Learn About the Technologies Which Will Form the Next Generation Cloud

On October 9 in San Antonio Texas, the Xen Project is assembling a group of experts from a number of Open Source projects to talk about these innovative technologies which will reshape the cloud. We won't have tons of toys and glitzy marketing displays, but we'll have the hot tech which will change your job forever.  You won't hear sales pitches, but you will learn about the best tech in and around the cloud.

And the best part: this one-day conference is FREE!

We call this event the Innovation In The Cloud Conference.  You can learn about this conference on the main event page.  The full list of conference sessions and speakers has been published, and registration is open.  Space is limited, so make sure you register early to insure you have a seat.

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August 2015 probably sets a new record for the most Xen Project talks ever to occur in a single week!  Two events crafted by Xen Project plus other Open Source conferences combine for a whirlwind of nearly 4 dozen Xen Project talks!

Talks can be found in Seattle WA, San Marcos TX, and Philadelphia PA in the third week of August.  Are you near one of those locations?  Join us!

Xen Project Developer Summit, Aug 17-18, Seattle WA

Monday, August 17

09:00 Xen Project Weather Report (Lars Kurth, Citrix)
09:45 Xen 4.6 and Beyond (Wei Liu, Citrix)
11:00 Xen and OpenStack (Stefano Stabellini, Citrix)
11:30 Migration (v2) (Andrew Cooper, Citrix System R&D)
12:00 Intel Graphics Virtualization Technology Update (Zhi Wang, Intel Corporation)
14:20 ARM: Virtualization Extensions (Marc Zyngier & Thomas Molgaard, ARM)
14:20 Latest News on Xen Support in libvirt (James Fehlig, SUSE Linux)
14:50 Virtual Machine Introspection with Xen (Tamas Lengyel, Technische Universitat Muenchen)
14:40 Virtualizing the Locomotive: Ready, Set, Go! (Mark Kraeling, GE Transportation)
15:20 Live Migration at AliCloud - Benefits, Challenges, Developments, and Future Works (Liu Jinsong, AliCloud)
15:20 VM Introspection: Practical Applications (Steven Maresca, Zentific LLC)
16:20 Hyper: Make VM Run Like Containers (Xu Wang, Hyper)
16:20 xSplice - Patching Hypervisor (Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk, Oracle)
17:10 Rump Kernel Based Upstream QEMU Stubdom (Wei Liu, Citrix)
17:10 Status Update on Xen-COLO HA/FT Solution (Hongyang Yang, Fujitsu)
17:40 Faster, Improved Guest Model for Xen (Elena Ufimtseva, Oracle)
17:40 QEMU Security Vulnerability Automatic Discovery by Symbolic Execution (Chunjie Zhu, Citrix)

Tuesday, August 18    

09:00 Achieving QoS in Server Virtualization: Intel Platform Shared Resource Monitoring/Control in Xen (Chao Peng, Intel)
09:00 Improve ARM Guest Performance with 64KB Pages (Julien Grall, Citrix)
09:30 PCI Passthrough Support in Xen Hypervisor for ARMv8 - Cavium ThunderX Soc (Manish Jaggi, Cavium Networks & Vijaya Kilari, Cavium Networks)
09:30 XenServer Power Saver (Cheng Zhang, Citrix)
10:30 Getting U-Boot FIT for Xen (Robbie VanVossen & Paul Skentzos, DornerWorks)
10:30 Shared Virtual Memory (SVM) Support in Xen (Feng Wu, Intel)
11:00 How to Passthrough Your Integrated Device to a VM on ARM (Julien Grall, Citrix)
11:00 PVHVM Linux Guest: Why Doesn't Kexec Work? (Vitaly Kuznetsov, RedHat)
11:30 Xen Containers: Better Way to Run Docker Containers (Sainath Grandhi, Intel)
14:00 Scheduling in Xen: Past, Present and Future (Dario Faggioli, Citrix & Meng Xu, University of Pennsylvania)
14:00 Joint Xen/KVM Hackathon
14:50 Project Raisin (Stefano Stabellini, Citrix)
16:00 Deploying Real-World Software Today as Unikernels on Xen with Rumprun (Martin Lucina)
16:50 Keeping Up with the Hardware: Challenges in Scaling I/O Performance (Jonathan Davies, Citrix)
17:20 A Fault Tolerant Virtualization Server Based on Xen (Jürgen Groß, SUSE)
18:30 Joint Evening Event with KVM Forum

LinuxCon/CloudOpen North America, Aug 17-19, Seattle WA

Monday, August 17

11:00 Xen and Docker: Uniting Best of Both Worlds (Oliver Lambert, Vates)
15:20 Faster, Improved Guest Model for Xen (Elena Ufimtseva, Oracle)
15:20 Are Today's FOSS Security Practices Robust Enough in the Cloud Era? (Lars Kurth, Citrix)

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In this industry, everyone seems to talk about innovation, but very few platforms exist which foster innovation.  More times than not, "innovation" is simply a buzzword used by some marketing campaign to hawk something about as novel as twenty-year-old accounting software.

Innovation does occur, of course.  But often real innovation leverages what already exists to create something which doesn't yet exist.  It may borrow from the known, but it produces something previously unknown.  For example, the industry has been going wild over cloud computing in the past few years, but many of the core cloud computing concept are actually old mainframe concepts reimagined in the world of commodity servers.

Making a Place for Innovation to Thrive

A bare-metal hypervisor -- like the one produced by the Xen Project -- can be an excellent platform for innovation.  We think of hypervisors as old technology, plumbing for newer technologies like cloud -- and, indeed, they are.  But the nature of the bare-metal hypervisor makes it an excellent platform for innovation to take place.

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The First Generation Cloud Dealt with Orchestration; The Next Generation Will Deal with Applications

During the past decade, the world of the cloud has been consumed with orchestration: How can we make an infrastructure which can adapt to the needs of the enterprise?  Words like automation, flexibility, and control have ruled the world of the cloud to date.

But now that a number of cloud orchestration projects have begun to mature, it's time to take a look at the applications themselves.  Until now, the applications which dwell in clouds look suspiciously like the applications which inhabited the traditional datacenter.  And while they may function pretty well, they are not really designed with an agile infrastructure in mind.

Make It Small, Make It Fast

In the world of the cloud, it would make sense to have small applications which are lightweight and nimble.  They should be quick to start and stop.  They should do what they need to do and then get out of the way so that valuable compute resources can be focused on applications which require compute power -- like databases, for instance.

Docker has made inroads in this area by using container technology to share the operating system space between many applications.  Virtual machines contain a full operating system for each instance, which requires lots of disk space, lots of memory, and prolonged startup and shutdown times.  Docker-type solutions keep memory usage down, make startups and shutdowns lightning quick, and create application bundles which are easy to deploy.

But shared resources can mean that an exploit of the base operating system can cause the compromise of dozens or even hundreds of applications resident on that host.  It also means that multi-tenant situations are difficult to achieve, as shared resources could mean increased ability to see your neighbor's work. If you don't trust your neighbor, you want a wall between the two applications which makes them invisible to each other, just like the solutions already extant in the world of hypervisors.

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FOSDEM, Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, openSUSE Mini-Summit, and SCALE 13X All to Feature Xen Project Content!



Jan 31-Feb 1: Lots of Great Talks at FOSDEM 2015!

FOSDEM is an absolutely huge annual event in Brussels, Belgium, and FOSDEM 15 is a huge event for Xen Project!  Talks include:

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