Virtualization and Image Management: Foundation Technologies for IT Simplification, Scalability and Optimization

Dr. Giovanni Pacifici from IBM

Abstract: To realize the Cloud Computing vision we will need to build large-scale distributed computing infrastructures capable of hosting thousands of applications that deliver IT functions to millions of users. Building such infrastructures requires solving the following key challenges: scalability, complexity and flexibility. Scalability refers to the ability of harnessing computing powers spread across a large number of distributed resources. Complexity refers to the problem of managing the configuration, security, availability, and performance of a large number of distributed applications, and systems. Flexibility and speed of delivery refers to the ability of creating and deploying new IT services at a speed one order of magnitude faster than what traditional IT infrastructure achieve today.

In this talk we will show how to leverage virtualization and image management technologies to address these challenges and provide the foundation for cloud computing. In particular, we will discuss the following specific benefits:

- Simplification of software lifecycle management. Virtual images, i.e., pre-built software stacks, will become the new unit of distribution, deployment, licensing, maintenance, archival and service/support. A Virtual image contains customization logic and has an associated meta-data manifest describing capabilities and requirements. Within a data center an Image Repository component will store and handle image manipulation operations. Image Repository will provide constructs for creating image instances from master images. It will also provide high-level interfaces for version-based functionality (e.g., check in, check out of image). Image Repository will handle image customization as well as providing efficient store and retrieve functions.

- Data center scalability and optimization. Virtualization will extend beyond single systems to multi-system pools consisting of servers, network and storage, thus creating a new platform for integrated management and optimization of data center resources. Because of the decoupling properties of virtualization technology, virtual images can run on any physical resource capable of hosting the image. Virtual images can be moved within an homogeneous pool without a change to their configuration. An pool manger controls the physical resources used within a pool, providing functions to the virtual images deployed in the pool. Because a pool deals with homogenous resources and the workload granularity is at the level of virtual images, the management complexity can remain constant as the number of physical elements in the pool increases.

- Model based solution composition. A new breed of tool will emerge to allow data center administrator to quickly assemble complex solutions from ready-made building blocks and pre-built templates. Enterprise software solution will consist of one or more virtual image and a model representing their hosting, communication, and performance requirements. A solution may be created manually, or may be created with the help of a solution designer tools. Solutions packaged in this way will be reusable, with multiple instances possibly deployed in the data center, or across different data centers.

Bio: Dr. Giovanni Pacifici is a Senior Manager of the Distributed Systems Department at IBM Watson Research Center (Hawthorne). His research work focus on the design, prototype and evaluation of management systems for cluster-based Web services. He led the research team that pioneered the distributed resource management technology of IBM's WebSphere Extended Deployment.

Previously, he was a Research Scientist at the Center for Telecommunications Research at Columbia University where he led several research activities that focused on the design and evaluation of real-time control and monitoring systems for high-speed networks with quality of service guarantees. Prior to his assignment at Columbia, he was a visiting Doctoral Candidate there, during which time I designed and implemented a monitoring and multimedia traffic generation system for MAGNET II, a high-speed multimedia network.

He was the Technical Program Co-Chair for IEEE Infocom 2001 and the Technical Program Co-Chair for the Fourth IFIP/IEEE International Conference on Management of Multimedia Networks and Services. He is a past editor of the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking. He was also an editor of the Elsevier Science's Computer Networks Journal, and the Guest Editor for two special issues of the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications.

He received the "Laurea" in Electrical Engineering and the "Research Doctorate" in Information Science and Telecommunications from the University of Rome, "La Sapienza" in 1984 and 1989 respectively.

Dr. Pacifici is a senior member of IEEE and a member of ACM.