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Last week I attended the 4th Winter School in Hot Topic in Distributed Computing organised by INRIA. The winter school was located in La Plagne (a classic ski resort in the French Alps) so good food and astonishing landscapes were guaranteed.
The winter school program was structured in 2 sessions per day. This year, the invited researchers were Shafi Goldwasser from MIT, Timothy Roscoe from ETH Zurich, Nir Shavit from Oracle and Tel Aviv University, Luis Rodrigues from INESC-ID, André Seznec from INRIA, Pablo Rodríguez from Telefónica Research and Serge Abitebou from INRIA. The talks covered different topics of distributed computing and the slides might be available soon in the winter school website. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend checking the webpage of each speaker for further details about their work. In addition to these sessions, two doctoral sessions allowed PhD students to show their work and to get some valuable feedback.
We've come a long way in virtualisation (some would say around in a big circle, but that's a different blog entry). Now we have routine cloud services (commercial, public and private) based on VMs all over the place. We also have routine VPNs, at least in most layer 2 net setups, and (at much greater expense) as commercial offerings between large corporate sites.
What virtualisation does is combine two properties - statistical multiplexing (resource pooling) together with isolation (privacy). Some VMs and VPNs allow you to tune the amount of resource pooling (for a price) that you are prepared to tolerate.
What seems to be lacking is a seamless integration of VM and VPN, and it seems that it is not a trivial thing to solve in a clean way. Obviously, one can simply map a service (e.g. a large Skywriting app running on a set of data centers) to a VPN. But that isn't terribly useful in general. More typically if there are resource pooling design goals, they are more likely, in the network layer to lie in having a wide set of user demands from outside of the VPN (e.g. a hose or sink tree).
So what should virtualised host+net look like as a building block, and what should the tools be to "provision" such things in an expressive, checkable, and simple way?
Seems like this is a good current challenge... ...
I recently had the opportunity to attend FAST (the USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies) in sunny San José. Despite "only" running for two days, the program was packed with presentations of interesting research papers.