[Beowulf] clustering using xen virtualized machines

Jon Forrest jlforrest at berkeley.edu
Wed Jan 27 09:31:49 PST 2010

At a recent Rocks clustering user's group
meeting the recent addition of Rocks support of
Xen-based virtual clusters came up. Some
of the same questions recently raised on this
list were discussed there.

One justification for virtual clusters that I
hadn't thought of was discussed. This only applies
in places with large clusters run by a central
computing group but used by various internal
customers. Using virtual clusters makes it
very easy to supply clusters to customers
who need a cluster for a limited period of
time. The amount of effort necessary to
provision a new cluster is minimal.
Nodes can easily and quickly be added,
if necessary. This is as opposed to buying
a new cluster for a research group, using it
for a couple of months, and then turning it

So, in this case, virtualized clusters have
the advantage of being easier to manage. The
performance overhead caused by the virtualization
is a factor, but it's decreasing as time goes
on due to better hardware support of virtualization
and cleverer software.

Jon Forrest
Research Computing Support
College of Chemistry
173 Tan Hall
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
jlforrest at berkeley.edu

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