KVM vendor creating open source hypervisor specifically for cloud workloads

KVM vendor Cloudius Systems' OSv is a stateless operating system built specifically to run cloud workloads

Dor Laor and Avi Kivity know a thing or two about virtualization, hypervisors and operating systems. And Laor says there are big problems with all three.

This is the team that is, in part, behind developing the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor at Qumranet Technologies, which Red Hat purchased in 2008 for $108 million. KVM is now the leading virtualization tool that powers OpenStack clouds and many other open source virtualization deployments.

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But while working at Red Hat directing the company’s virtualization platform, Laor ran into issues. Sure Linux is a fine OS for running virtualized workloads. But when it was developed, virtualization had not taken off. Since then, Linux has evolved to support virtualization and now cloud workloads. But Laor says it’s not optimized for these use cases. “The operating system has been virtually unchanged since the introduction of cloud computing,” he says.

Dor Laor

Dor Laor

Today, Laor, makers of an open source project named OSv, is launching Cloudius Systems a new operating system designed to handle virtualized and cloud environments.  Laor and Kivity left Red Hat earlier his year to create the company and develop the project. Since then the company has received angel investments and it’s launching today at the LinuxCon conference.

How is OSv different? It sits above the hypervisor layer, interacting directly with the application that it’s running to ensure resource allocation is provisioned as needed. While it’s not based on the Linux kernel, it does take some of the features within the community that are best for cloud and virtualization. For example, there is no OS management, OSv allows developers to deploy applications from the development environment to the cloud, eliminating the need for template management, configuration and tuning, he says. That can be helpful in a devops or PaaS environment where developers are constantly creating new applications and launching them to the cloud.

Because OSv is geared to run cloud workloads, it cuts out unnecessary configurations, daemons and options normally found in an OS, saving CPU and memory and reducing latency, the company says. That makes it ideal for large-scale cloud deployments where hundreds of virtual machines are running copies of the same application.

In addition, Laor, as CEO of Cloudius Systems, is launching OSv as an open source project today. He hopes that within a year or so he could commercialize it and sell it to cloud users, including web-scale companies like Netflix and Pinterest that live in the cloud, or to enterprises that run their own private clouds. Installing the OS would be as simple as spinning it up on virtual machine instances and running your applications on this new OS, he says. The cloud may have its very own operating system soon.  

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.

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