Citrix Says Kensho Tools Mean Hypervisor Liberation

By By Dennis Barker, GRIDtoday

August 4, 2008

Virtual appliances that can run in any virtual environment. It sounds almost like a campaign promise. But to realize that promise, someone has to give developers tools to build those appliances. That’s what Citrix says it will deliver in the next couple months with Project Kensho: tools that ISVs and in-house IT staff can use to create application machines that will run in any of the virtual environments, be it VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer, or Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

Actually, along with the tools, you need some kind of standard blueprint, and that’s what proponents say the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) provides. “OVF offers a hypervisor-independent portable virtual machine format that packages a complete application workload with its resource requirements, configuration and customization parameters, and licensing information,” says Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of the Virtualization and Management Division at Citrix (citrix.com), and a member of the group that drafted the OVF specification. “Virtualized datacenter workloads captured in OVF format can be installed and run on any virtualization platform that complies with the standard. When a virtual machine is installed, the application is localized and optimized for that particular environment.”

Drafted originally by Citrix and VMware, and introduced last fall, OVF has “support and contributions” from Microsoft, IBM, and Dell, and has been adopted for standardization by the Distributed Management Task Force. As the DMTF officially explains it, OVF “uses existing packaging tools to combine one or more virtual machines together with a standards-based XML wrapper, giving the virtualization platform a portable package containing all required installation and configuration parameters for the virtual machines. This allows any virtualization platform that implements the standard to correctly install and run the virtual machines.”

Crosby says that at a recent DMTF event, “we used Project Kensho to create virtual machines from VMware, XenServer, and Hyper-V in the OVF format. We were also able to import and run OVF appliances on both XenServer and Hyper-V.”

Better Containers

If, like some people, you visualize virtual machines as little canisters, the way Citrix describes it you might think of Kensho-built OVF containers as being more like kegs.

“Some virtual machines are nothing more than a virtual hard disk,” Crosby says. “But OVF virtual machines are containers that can include everything needed to run an application workload. A container can include different kinds of applications, perhaps a database server and a Web server. OVF will allow a package to contain all the elements needed to accomplish a task, including any installation instructions, your networking components, application logic, everything.”

These containers can be out there in the cloud or on the network for others to download and use. This is part of the picture Crosby paints when describing the post-Kensho future: vast libraries of innovative apps or services that can be rented, bought or used for free. Because OVF specifies procedures to check the integrity of virtual appliances, Crosby says, appliances developed by third parties can be checked for security problems before being deployed.

OVF and Project Kensho tools will “solve the difficult interoperability issues between virtualization platforms while also eventually allowing automated provisioning,” Crosby says. “Enterprises and ISVs will be able to use any OVF packaged application workload. It doesn’t matter whether they use XenServer, VMware ESX, or Hyper-V. The workload will install and run on any of these environments that implement the standard.”

Large and medium enterprises that are “increasingly wary of the pitfalls of VMware vendor lock-in will greatly benefit from frictionless transition” between the different virtual infrastructures, says Ravi Gururaj, founder and CTO of VMLogix, whose LabManager application can leverage the Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft virtualization platforms.

OVF in Action

Replicate Technologies develops tools for managing the virtualized and physical networks that underlie a virtual machine environment. Replicate currently uses OVF to speed installation of its software solutions; products are delivered as virtual machines in OVF packages that run under VMware Virtual Center. (The company plans to target other hypervisor platforms.)

“Replicate’s tools install much more quickly and with less user intervention with the OVF ‘wizard’ in VMware Virtual Center,” says Ken Novak, chief architect at Replicate. “In the long run, our system discovery tools will read the OVF description of applications as a way to understand their needs and their impact upon the virtual environment.  This will apply to OVF descriptions of both acquired software and site-recovery in-house software applications.”

Although not using Project Kensho tools (Replicate builds its OVF packages with VMware tools), Novak sees significant benefits coming from OVF, in general.

“OVF can be extended to provide a more complete description of application architecture and requirements. Once extended, OVF will allow datacenter operators to: one, install applications much more rapidly; two, migrate applications from normal operations onto standby hardware or disaster-recovery datacenters; and, three, enable application vendors to deliver software in a package that is independent of hardware, guest operating system, and virtualization or cloud-computing platform, which should provide significant economies for both vendor and customer.”

Novak sees a future similar to that described by Crosby when discussing Kensho’s benefits, in which OVF containers carrying complete applications and required plumbing can be grabbed and deployed on-demand, and managed as just another component running in the datacenter.

Many virtual machines are available both as downloadable appliances and as by-the-hour units of cloud computing,” he says. “Vendors like rPath have shown how to automatically embed applications into virtual appliances or cloud images — for example, VMware or Xen or Amazon EC2. Clouds that directly support OVF applications will have the advantage of being able to directly utilize the software that has been developed for enterprise virtual infrastructures.”

The ability to create “packages of multi-tier applications comprising several server images as an appliance” designed to run in a virtual environment is “great enough without any consideration of crossing the boundaries of interoperability between virtual machine environments,” says Replicate’s CEO, Rich Miller.

Unchained

“As virtualization becomes even more mainstream in enterprise IT,” Crosby says, “organizations need to be able to take advantage of it without being tied to a single hypervisor or virtual disk format, a freedom that OVF allows.”

“The capabilities delivered by the Kensho tools will facilitate the rapid build-out of virtual datacenters that are platform-agnostic, heterogeneous, and standards-based,” says Gururaj of VMLogix. “Organizations will see the cost savings by not having to invest in different tools that do the same thing on different platforms. In fact, this may accelerate the adoption of virtualization as it removes some of the barriers to achieving truly agnostic IT infrastructures.”

Project Kensho tools are slated to be available for free download from Citrix in the third quarter, Crosby says. How soon after that we see application containers that can run in any virtual environment cannot be predicted.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Mira Supercomputer Enables Cancer Research Breakthrough

November 11, 2019

Dynamic partial-wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy allows researchers to observe intracellular structures as small as 20 nanometers – smaller than those visible by optical microscopes – in three dimensions at a mill Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quantum annealing) – ion trap technology is edging into the QC Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. That’s the conclusion drawn by the scientists and researcher Read more…

By Jan Rowell

What’s New in HPC Research: Cosmic Magnetism, Cryptanalysis, Car Navigation & More

November 8, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Machine Learning Fuels a Booming HPC Market

November 7, 2019

Enterprise infrastructure investments for training machine learning models have grown more than 50 percent annually over the past two years, and are expected to shortly surpass $10 billion, according to a new market fore Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Atom by Atom, Supercomputers Shed Light on Alloys

November 7, 2019

Alloys are at the heart of human civilization, but developing alloys in the Information Age is much different than it was in the Bronze Age. Trial-by-error smelting has given way to the use of high-performance computing Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. Th Read more…

By Jan Rowell

MLPerf Releases First Inference Benchmark Results; Nvidia Touts its Showing

November 6, 2019

MLPerf.org, the young AI-benchmarking consortium, today issued the first round of results for its inference test suite. Among organizations with submissions wer Read more…

By John Russell

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed ins Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Launches Credit Card-Sized 21 TOPS Jetson System for Edge Devices

November 6, 2019

Nvidia has launched a new addition to its Jetson product line: a credit card-sized (70x45mm) form factor delivering up to 21 trillion operations/second (TOPS) o Read more…

By Doug Black

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Spending Spree: Hyperscalers Bought $57B of IT in 2018, $10B+ by Google – But Is Cloud on Horizon?

October 31, 2019

Hyperscalers are the masters of the IT universe, gravitational centers of increasing pull in the emerging age of data-driven compute and AI.  In the high-stake Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This