[Beowulf] Docker vs KVM paper by IBM

James Cuff james_cuff at harvard.edu
Wed Jan 28 12:03:08 PST 2015

"Large dependency radii" - love it!

As one of those grumpy IT guys that control the spice, I for one
embrace our new container overlords!  Especially once all that messy
security stuff gets sorted out.  Interestingly, there is an almost
identical conversation going on the XSEDE campus list as I type this.

Maybe Kenny was right:




dr. james cuff, assistant dean for research computing, harvard
university | division of science | thirty eight oxford street,
cambridge. ma. 02138 | +1 617 384 7647 | http://rc.fas.harvard.edu

On Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 2:48 PM, Joe Landman
<landman at scalableinformatics.com> wrote:
> On 01/28/2015 02:08 PM, Ellis H. Wilson III wrote:
>> On 01/28/2015 02:00 PM, Gavin W. Burris wrote:
>>> Researchers do not want to be sysadmins, and if they do, they
>>> aren't publishing.
>> This statement is so infuriatingly incorrect I'm embarrassed to even be
>> responding to it.
> Heh ...
>> You do remember this is the Beowulf list, originally comprised of
>> researchers who decided to be their own sysadmins/hardware vendors/etc in
>> order to get their research done, right?
>> Even in today's mainly post-big-iron age, there are plenty of
>> systems-level CS researchers (like I was not more than 6 months back) who
>> ran their own clusters simply to get their work done. No, I really don't
>> feel like working with my IT staff every time I want to change the toolchain
>> or recompile such-and-such magical cache replacement algorithm into this
>> version of the kernel. Imagine that.  I just want to do it.
> This is in large part what is driving the whole concept.  Its hard enough to
> get updated drivers into specific types of clusters (the IT clusters
> commonly run with RHEL variants) ... imagine trying to replace a system
> level package for something that you need to support your work.  You don't
> need to be negotiating with the IT staff to make this change.
> FWIW:  this is one of the reasons we built our systems as being entirely PXE
> booted, and "auto configuring" upon startup.  Make it so that if you want
> to/have to make changes you can do it in a completely programmatically
> defined manner.  Make the substrate OS a simple function of the job launch.
> Though Docker will allow us to simplify this even more ... our substrate can
> be that much simpler ...
> ... but this said, the OS/distro should not be an impediment to running
> code.  That Docker emerged and has caught fire is a testament to the fact
> that it generally *is* an impediment, and its sadly rare that you find
> things that just work right, out of the box/tarball without a dependency
> chain from hell to chase.
> Large dependency radii suck. Docker (and VMs) let you contain this.
>> I have no doubt there are tons of point-and-click researchers out there
>> who don't want to be sysadmins.  But making such broad strokes on this list
>> is asking for flames.
> +1
> --
> Joseph Landman, Ph.D
> Founder and CEO
> Scalable Informatics, Inc.
> e: landman at scalableinformatics.com
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