University of Cambridge > > Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar > Unikernels and Beyond: the future of application containers in the cloud

Unikernels and Beyond: the future of application containers in the cloud

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As applications, rather than systems, increasingly become the unit of execution on the cloud, it is unclear what the application abstraction on the cloud should be. Recently, unikernels have emerged as an exploration of minimalist software stacks to improve the security of applications in the cloud among other benefits. I will begin the talk by giving an overview of unikernel-related work at IBM Research. I will then describe our work on “unikernel monitors” that extends the notion of minimalism beyond an individual virtual machine to include the underlying monitor and the interface it exposes. Each unikernel is bundled with a tiny, specialized monitor that only contains what the unikernel needs both in terms of interface and implementation. Unikernel monitors improve isolation through minimal interfaces, reduce complexity, and boot unikernels quickly. I will also describe our initial prototype and our experience engaging with the open source community. I will end by sketching some future work.

Bio: Dan Williams is a Research Staff Member at IBM Research, Yorktown Heights, NY, where he has been looking at what applications running in the cloud should look like. Specifically, he’s interested in unikernel architectures, especially the interface between the unikernel and the host. He’s an original author of the Solo5 unikernel base (which will soon be an official backend for MirageOS on KVM ) and the ukvm “unikernel monitor”. Prior to IBM Research, he received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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