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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Xen

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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I have been working with Clouds since before the coining of the term itself (back then, the startup I was working for called it "Agile Infrastructure"; now it's known as "IaaS"). From the very beginning, a frequent blocker to adoption has been the question of security. "We can't go to the Cloud because it is simply not secure," goes the complaint.

Well, I'm here to say it's bunk -- pure bunk. There is NO new security problem in the Cloud.

There is, in fact, a security problem in external Clouds -- but it is already in your data center right now.

If you take a truly secure system and place it in an external or hybrid cloud, it will remain secure. Simply exposing a secure system to a larger number of potentially hostile assailants is not enough to make it vulnerable. No, a truly secure system is designed to remain that way even during escalating pressure.

The problem is that very few of our current systems are truly secure. They rely heavily on the notion that threats are few behind the corporate firewall, so they don't need to have air-tight security. That concept is -- and always was -- a mistake. And now that conditions are changing in the Cloud, the inappropriate assumption is causing major headaches. The leaks in the boat are becoming apparent now that it is finally in the water.

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Open Source Cloud Projects to Watch

Posted by on in Open Source

We often have our heads down looking at the projects we regularly work on (Apache CloudStack and Xen Project) and don't always pay attention to the other cool things going on in the open source world. So once and a while it's good to poke your head up olut of the clouds and take a look at some of the awesome projects being developed in the open source community. These projects are very promising and especially usefully for cloud comptuing.  

Hybrid Cloud => Segregated Workloads

I am not convinced of the hybrid cloud scenario as espoused by many cloud pundits. I think it's more theoretical then the common place. What I do think happens is that organizations are using the public cloud and private cloud simultaneously with different applications in each and will continue to do so. That's why I like some of these tools that help users manage mutliple clouds (hopefully one of them will be Apache CloudStack ;) from a single tool. 

Scalr 

Scalr InterfaceOne of my favorite projects is Scalr which gives users an easy-to-use menu-driven interface (See screenshot to the right) that enables them to deploy applications on multiple clouds. I have seen Scalr in use on a number of CloudStack clouds as well as being used to manage Amazon Web Services. Their template system makes cloud deployments a point-and-click proposition. 

jclouds 

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Tb2ap3_thumbnail_xenproject.pnghis week the Linux Foundation announced that Xen was becoming a Linux Collaboration project, Xen Project. In the announcement Amazon Web Services, AMD, Bromium, Calxeda, CA Technologies, Cisco, Citrix, Google, Intel, Oracle, Samsung and Verizon all pledged their support both monetarily and through continued contribution to the development of Xen Project.

Why is this Good For Xen?

Xen Community manager, Lars Kurth, lists a number of reasons why this move is a good for the Xen community on the Xen blog. 

  • An increase in Diversity 
  • Bringing Users and Developers Together
  • More Collaboration

That's interesting with over 10 million users worldwide and over 60% of the code base coming from outside the walls of Citrix (the former sponsor of the Xen.org project) there was already a fair amount of diversity, users, developers and collaboration so things can only get better. 

What the Industry is Saying

The industry is abuzz talking about this move and it's been overwhelmingly positive. First off I think you would be hard-pressed to find a more elite group of users and software developers collectively behind a single virtualization solution. Secondly, the technology has over ten years of software history one of the most mature technologies in it's field. Finally, the software has the support and committment of some of the world's biggest virtualization "power users". 

For example, Verizon also added a very publics statement about their use of Xen and Apache CloudStack on their blog, Chris Drumgoole, Senior Vice President, Global Operations for Verizon Terramark wrote:

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CloudStack at XenSummit

Posted by on in Events

It is time again for the XenSummit North America, which will start in 3 weeks. This year, XenSummit is conveniently co-located with CloudOpen and LinuxCon. If you use open source Xen, Huawei UVP, Oracle VM, XenServer, XenClient or other Xen derived products and want to see where the Xen open source project is heading, you should consider attending the 2012 Summit. Especially if you are using XCP in yoru CloudStack cloud, XenSummit will also provide lots of great content. Also the Xen.org community has generously provided space for the Apache CloudStack community during the event for the members of that project to work together.

Xen Summit 2012

XenSummit is a 2 day in-depth technical event that provides attendees with a chance to interact with and learn from contributors to Xen.org projects and meet other users of the open source Xen Hypervisor, Xen Cloud Platform and Xen ARM projects.

This year’s event will cover topics from ...

  • Cloud Computing (with Apache Cloudstack)
  • Xen in embedded and mobile devices
  • Xen on ARM based Servers
  • Xen and Linux
  • as well as many others topics. Why don't you check out the schedule.

The event features speakers from AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Bromium, the BSD Community, Cambridge University, Canonical, Calxeda, Citrix, The Flux Research Group, Galois, Huawei, Inktank, Intel, Locaweb, OnApp, Oracle, Rackspace Hosting and the University of Applied Sciences (HES) in Vaud.

More information on schedule, talks, location and registration is available at www.xen.org/xensummit. XenSummit attendees will also get a discount code for CloudOpen and LinuxCon after registration.

This year, we will also hold an invite only developer meeting prior to XenSummit: you can request an invite here.

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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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