Virtualization is Not Cloud…But Does Make It Shine

By Miha Ahronovitz

August 31, 2010

The reason why the clouds came into being and their functionality created such high demand is because most large IT shops were asking themselves “Why does Google make all the money; why does Yahoo make so much—and why don’t we? Can’t we have, in-house, that same model?”

After all, Google might have JBOD (Just a Bunch of Datacentres), so what magic did they use to deliver us, from behind an opaque wall, away from all the abstraction with transparent service and elasticity?

To get to the heart of those questions, Jonathan Lampe spends some time discussing the concept of elasticity. If you ask me, this is the single most important feature of a cloud and part of what separates it so distinctly from the grid. The grids did not have elasticity–all a grid did was to implement policies in sharing a limited number of resources in a fair way.

This means that if I am small-dog user, I am thrown out from the execution space to a holding queue, each time a very big dog user needs the resources. This also means the quality of service is awful in the grid. It is like taking a shower in an older hotel, when the water is either boiling hot or chilling cold, depending on how many guests are showering in their room at the same time.

Let’s revisit Jonathan Lampe’s view on this in the context of elasticity, when he states: “Elastic architecture” is a concept you will read about more frequently as time goes on. It refers to computer architecture designed such that applications with different roles in different tiers of an application can each intelligently (and elastically) scale up or down to meet processing requirements
.
 Jonathan uses as a reference this 2007 blog that looks back, stating:

A few months ago Amazon announced their new web service called EC2, which stands for Elastic Compute Cloud. The idea is pretty simple and powerful. You use an API call to “create” a server and install your software on it. Everything works like a real server, and if you need more power, you call the API again and request another server. If you no longer need the extra power, you shut the extra servers down (with an API call).  You only pay for the actual time you used each “created” server.  Amazon did not invent the concept, but they did make it trivial to use, and with their reputation on the line, they are committed to make it a reliable and competitive platform.

Elastic computing is the result of recent improvements made in the area of virtualization, which is the execution of multiple operating system entities on a single hardware. Image your desktop at home running Windows at the same time it is running Linux. Desktop virtualization is done in the form of one operating system hosting another (something Mac users are very familiar with running Windows inside OS X). Server virtualization is done by running a light virtualization operating system (usually Linux-based) which does not provide any other functionality besides hosting other platforms. Virtualization has reached a certain maturity lately thanks to significant improvements in hardware, mostly in  built-in CPU support for sharing the same hardware between multiple operating systems. 

This is the most lucid simple story of what is EC2. Amazon already operates the largest online store on earth, so the elasticity was big issue for them before it was an issue for everybody else. It was business first. But the genius of Jeff Bezos made this an exercise in the lateral thinking and considered… Gee, if we created this, what not sell the cycles as already do sell books or TVs?” And it was this superb execution that led to Amazon EC2.

The virtualization was never an end in itself, just the means. It so happened that it was handy. At the beginning, virtualization was weak for production use. This is when VMware and XEN opened the eyes and exclaimed, “wow, the cloud, needs us!”

And so we can conclude that the cloud business model does not necessarily need virtualization. Virtualization was an opportunistic tool. The software virtualization companies must continue to make themselves needed via constant improvement. The cloud needs elasticity and irtualization is part of the game for now.

We have an analyst-supplied historic log of virtualization predictions, summarized from 2006 to 2010. In 2006 no one talked about clouds, but about “the IT consolidation market”. Gartner predicted 50% of the workloads will be virtualized in 2010, but “60% of virtualized servers will be less secure than the physical servers they replace.” Supposedly, the cloud infrastructure will have to compensate this basic flaw the server virtualization has by definition.

No wonder  Tech Target’s number one prediction for virtualization in 2010 is disaster recovery (DR).

“Although virtualization provides a backup of sorts, it is not a foolproof method. If one virtual server goes down, it can take hundreds of virtual machines (VMs) with it — bringing enterprise operations to a screeching halt. Having a solid DR plan in place and examining each aspect will make all the difference.”

The DR function is part of many cloud implementatios. This is why, the software virtualization in the cloud needs assistance from the cloud itself.

What about hardware based virtualization? The newest player is Intel who will offer very fast virtualization extension in hardware  processors. The military used already CPUs made by Intel with embedded virtualization  since 2009. 

The advances being made today by CPU makers and hypervisor developers are helping to define the way for future virtualization platforms. New CPU extensions are not only helping to meet the high-performance requirements of future systems, but they’re also making it easier to implement and support legacy operating systems.

In years to come, implementations such as VT-x and VT-d will play an increasingly important role in virtualized systems as industry adopts these types of implementations as effective hardware assistance standards for future CPU architectures.

The original paper on Intel hardware virtualization was published in 2006. The most recent news on Intel virtualization are summrized here

Intel® Xeon® Processor 5000 Sequence has the virtualization technology in place. Here are the benefits as specified by Intel.

• Enables more operating systems and software to run in today’s virtual environments.

• Developed with virtualization software providers to enable greater functionality and  compatibility compared to non-hardware-assisted virtual environments.

• Get the performance and headroom to improve the average virtualization performance over previous generations of two-processor servers.

We have no official news from software virtualization ISV on how their future release will be optimized for Intel processors, yet the results will be spectacular for the both enterprise and home users.

AMD Virtualization (AMD-V™) Technology is also listed on their website

August 7, 2010, an article from Federal Circle, made the following predictions for 2010 virtualization:

Hardware advancements will simplify and help increase penetration of virtualization. I/O Virtualization and direct device access will be focus areas for this year and specific hardware enhancements will remove storage and network bottlenecks. This will allow increased VM (virtual machine) density and better performance. The improvements will enable virtualization of critical workloads without compromising performance. This would enhance utilization and ensure increased RoI (return on investment) for virtualization investments.

The reason 3PAR is the object of an intense bidding between Hewlett Packard and Dell, is because elastic storage, virtual and scalable in a cloud. They are the first, in their storage hardware software combinations working the wonders.

A laptop from HP or Dell needs to have some minimal but extremely fast flash drives. Large heavy internal hard drives will be a thing of the past. Simply every user can have any storage capacity, virtual and  scalable, in the HP or Dell storage clouds based on 3PAR. HP and Bell can update directly all software on the laptop and make connections to any other cloud.

Once married with hardware, the software virtualization will make itself part of the cloud building structures, paving the road to science-fiction-like technological products
 

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!

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that d Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competition. This is the twelfth time that teams of university undergr Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and much of the surrounding Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

New Data Management Techniques for Intelligent Simulations

The trend in high performance supercomputer design has evolved – from providing maximum compute capability for complex scalable science applications, to capacity computing utilizing efficient, cost-effective computing power for solving a small number of large problems or a large number of small problems. Read more…

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC impact at SC18. Most noteworthy is that five of 13 CAAR applic Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competitio Read more…

By Dan Olds

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC im Read more…

By John Russell

How ASCI Revolutionized the World of High-Performance Computing and Advanced Modeling and Simulation

November 9, 2018

The 1993 Supercomputing Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. That conference and it’s show floor provided a good snapshot of the uncertainty that U.S. supercomputing was facing in the early 1990s. Many of the companies exhibiting that year would soon be gone, either bankrupt or acquired by somebody else. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

At SC18: GM, Boeing, Deere, BP Talk Enterprise HPC Strategies

November 9, 2018

SC18 in Dallas (Nov.11-16) will feature an impressive series of sessions focused on the enterprise HPC deployments at some of the largest industrial companies: Read more…

By Doug Black

SC 30th Anniversary Perennials 1988-2018

November 8, 2018

Many conferences try, fewer succeed. Thirty years ago, no one knew if the first SC would also be the last. Thirty years later, we know it’s the biggest annual Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

CEA’s Pick of ThunderX2-based Atos System Boosts Arm

November 8, 2018

Europe’s bet on Arm took another step forward today with selection of an Atos BullSequana X1310 system by CEA’s (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Ener Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

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