DATE: Friday, May 30, 2008 - NOTE SPECIAL DAY
TIME: 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

Vasanth Bala and Glenn Ammons
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

Virtual Machine Images as Data: The Mirage Project

Large organizations have difficulty maintaining the software on the many physical machines that they manage, a problem sometimes known as "physical server sprawl". Virtualization can make the problem worse: because virtual-machine images can be snapshotted and cloned easily, organizations may find themselves managing several images per physical machine. Many management operations (e.g. security scans, OS patches, license usage audits, etc) expect to execute inside a running machine. As the number of virtual-machine images grows, having to start up every image in order to manage it will not scale.

The Mirage project at IBM Research takes a novel approach to this problem. The goal of Mirage is to enable large collections of virtual-machine images to be treated as structured data, rather than as unstructured disk images. Such a representation allows a collection of images to be searched and manipulated without having to individually start each image or mount its encapsulated file system. Mirage also provides mechanisms to reconstitute images in a conventional disk image format for execution.

Vas Bala manages several virtualization related projects at IBM Research, and also leads the virtualization strategic initiative for the IBM Research Division. Prior to IBM, Vas has worked at HP Labs where he did pioneering work on dynamic binary translators and JIT technologies, and co-founded Liquid Machines, a successful startup company presently headquarterd in the Boston area.

Glenn Ammons is a computer scientist at IBM Research, currently working on the Mirage project. His research interests lie in improving the dependability and efficiency of software, especially by studying executions of real systems.

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