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"The Xenoserver project aims to build a public infrastructure for wide-area distributed computing."


The Xenoserver project is building a public infrastructure for wide-area distributed computing. We envisage a world in which Xenoserver execution platforms will be scattered across the globe and available for any member of the public to submit code for execution. The sponsor of the code will be billed for all the resources used or reserved during the course of execution. This will serve to encourage load balancing, limit congestion, and hopefully even make the platform self-financing.

A global infrastructure such as we propose is essential to address the fundamental problem of communication latency. By enabling anyone to run programs at points throughout the network we can ensure that their code executes close to the entities with which it needs to interact. As well as reducing latency this can be used to avoid network bottlenecks, to reduce long-haul network charges and to provide a platform over which code provided by transiently-connected mobile devices can maintain a network presence.

This wide-ranging project has two main strands of work:

  • Development of the Xen virtual machine monitor, a high-performance hypervisor for hosting multiple commodity operating systems on a single x86-based server. This forms the core of each Xenoserver node, providing the resource management, accounting and auditing that we require. Xen finds numerous applications outside the Xenoserver project. These inclue server consolidation and secure computing platforms.

  • Development of the Xenoserver Open Platform control software for managing networks of Xenoservers. Our research includes distributed storage, server discovery, resource management and authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) functions. This work finds relevance to Grid computing and to globally distributed testbeds such as PlanetLab.
An overview of the complete project is available as a Computer Lab Technical Report. Further information is available on-line about: Ian Pratt is the principal investigator for the project. The Xenoserver project is supported by the EPSRC grants Xenoservers for pervasive computing, Supporting flexible end-to-end services and FutureGRID: a program for long-term research into GRID systems architecture and by the Microsoft Research Embedded Systems IFP.