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A Library-based Network Operating System for the Cloud

Date and Time
Monday, September 24, 2012 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Computer Science 302
Jennifer Rexford
The cloud has so far mostly been used to consolidate existing operating systems and manage them more conveniently. The interface between guest kernels, applications and VMs are all managed very differently, leading to serious inefficiencies, unreliability and insecurity.

Our new Mirage OS revisits the library OS, and finds it a practical approach to improve this situation. Applications are written in a high-level functional programming language (OCaml) and compiled directly into microkernels that run on the Xen hypervisor. By treating the hypervisor as a stable hardware platform, we can focus on high-performance protocol implementations without worrying about having to support the thousands of device drivers found in a traditional OS.

Mirage includes clean-slate functional implementations of protocols ranging from TCP/IP, DNS, SSH, Openflow (switch/controller), HTTP, XMPP and Xen inter-VM transports. In this talk, I will describe the basics of Mirage, and demonstrate the performance and resource tradeoffs with our approach. Some of the new applications we are building using Mirage include the next-generation Xen Cloud Platform (a widely deployed open-source Xen distribution), Openflow-integrated applications, and a novel approach to managing distributed devices on the Internet.

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