IBM cloud patching system highlights virtualization research

IBM's research division is working on several virtualization projects that could boost security of cloud computing networks, reduce data center power costs, and improve the ability to run multiple hypervisors and operating systems, including Linux and Windows.

IBM's research division is working on several virtualization projects that could boost security of cloud computing networks, reduce data center power costs, and improve the ability to run multiple hypervisors and operating systems, including Linux and Windows.

IBM and North Carolina State University this week announced a new "cloud computing patch tool" that updates virtual machines even when they are offline, boosting the efficiency of applying security updates to cloud networks. The tool is four times faster than current patch application systems, the organizations said.

FAQ: Cloud computing, demystified

"Current patching systems are designed for computers that are online and they don't work for dormant computers or virtual machines," Peng Ning, professor of computer science at N.C. State, said in a press release. "The tool we developed automatically analyzes the 'script' that dictates how a security patch is installed, and then automatically re-writes the script to make it compatible with an offline system."

Ning and colleagues from N.C. State and IBM describe the research in a report that is titled "Always Up-to-date – Scalable Offline Patching of VM Images in a Compute Cloud," and which will be presented at next week's Annual Computer Security Applications Conference in Austin, Texas.

The paper was first published in March, and IBM and N.C. State have tested the system on IBM's Research Compute Cloud, which provides services to IBM researchers.

Because many of the virtual machines in cloud networks are used infrequently, patches are not always applied in a timely manner, IBM said. "This leaves the VMs vulnerable to cyber-attacks when they are brought back online. The VMs are particularly vulnerable if they have been left dormant for months, and missed significant patches," IBM said.

The cloud patching system is just one of several virtualization research projects underway at IBM, which first started using virtualizaton on its own mainframe systems decades ago.

An IBM research paper published last month titled "VMFlow: Leveraging VM Mobility to Reduce Network Power Costs in Data Centers," describes a framework for placing and moving virtual machines "that takes into account both the network topology as well as network traffic demands," in a bid to reduce power use.

"Our simulation uses real data center traces and the results demonstrate that, by applying an intelligent VM placement heuristic, VMFlow can achieve 15 per cent to 20 per cent additional savings in network power while satisfying 50 per cent to 60 per cent more network demands as compared to recently proposed techniques for saving network power," IBM researchers wrote.

In still another research project, dubbed "Turtles," IBM has proposed a nested virtualization system for Intel-based x86 systems.

The Turtles project puts nested virtualization into the KVM hypervisor, which is part of Linux, allowing flexibility to run multiple hypervisors and operating systems.

"The Turtles project … runs multiple unmodified hypervisors (e.g., KVM and VMware) and operating systems (e.g., Linux and Windows)," IBM researchers state. "Despite the lack of architectural support for nested virtualization in the x86 architecture, it can achieve performance that is within six per cent to eight per cent of single-level (non-nested) virtualization for common workloads."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Configuration / maintenanceLinuxIBMhardware systemsnon-WindowsData CenterNorth Carolina State Universityoperating systemscloud computinginternetvirtualization

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?