IBM code unfetters virtual workloads

IBM has cracked the problem of moving virtual machines across different servers, without using shared storage

Some of the first fruits of a European Union-funded project led by IBM are making their way into the field of cloud computing, in the form of a virtual machine migration technology.

The technology, sprouting from the Reservoir (Resources and Services Virtualization without Barriers) program, offers a way to move a live, virtualized workload from one server to another, without the need for the two locations to share the same storage space.

[Read Computerworld Australia's storage virtualization buying guide]

"We at IBM Research view this as a huge leap forward because the new open source code enables sharing across domains where shared networked storage and hardware components are not practical," wrote Dr. Yaron Wolfsthal, an IBM research senior manager of system technologies and services who led the development, in a blog post announcing the code.

"This is a technology for live service migration which obviates the need for shared storage between the source and target physical machines [which] was previously required by all known migration mechanisms," Wolfsthal said in a subsequent e-mail interview.

Of course, VMware has offered the ability to move a virtual machine from one server to another for a while now, by way of software called VMotion. But this approach has its limits: It requires both the source and the destination hosts to share the same storage device, which limits the range of migration. "To the best of our understanding, vSphere does not support live migration without shared storage," Wolfsthal said.

In fact VMware has been trying to solve the long-distance problem. Last year it said it was working with Cisco Systems on a proof-of-concept demonstration that it planned to show off at a Cisco event in San Francisco. "This, of course, is a non-trivial thing to do," VMware said at the time.

Others have commented on the single-storage-location limitation as well. "This means that inside a single data center, one can only move a [virtual machine] across a relatively small number of physical machines. Not exactly what the marketing guys would have you believe," wrote Alex Benik, a principal at analyst firm Battery Ventures, in a research note.

In contrast, the Reservoir technology involves copying the workload over to the new location -- while keeping it running -- using a delicately choreographed combination of push and pull replication mechanisms. "The movement is not restricted and virtual machines can be now moved from anywhere to anywhere," Wolfsthal explained. Both locations will need to have the code running in their hypervisors in order to make this migration work.

Thus far, the capability has been integrated into two open-source virtualization programs. One is KVM (Kernel-based Virtualization), a hypervisor technology that has been incorporated into the Linux kernel and is the cornerstone of Red Hat's virtualization strategy. It has also been inserted into the Libvirt virtualization toolkit, which supports both the Citrix Xen hypervisor and the VMware hypervisors.

Wolfsthal declined to talk about what, if any, plans IBM has for commercializing the technology.

Reservoir is a three-year European Union-funded program to develop new cloud computing, virtualization and Web 2.0 technologies.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cloud computinginternetIBMstoragevirtualizationServer VirtualizationStorage virtualizationInfrastructure servicesStorage Management

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

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?