System Virtualization

Guest Editor's Introduction • October 2009

Theme Articles

The feature articles in this month's theme:

Virtual Infrastructure Management
in Private and Hybrid Clouds

OpenNebula is an open source, virtual infrastructure manager that deploys virtualized services on both a local pool of resources and external Infrastructure-as-a-Service clouds.
More »

System Virtualization Tools for Software Development
Virtualization is a cost-effective way to provide a test environment similar to the production site. An Eclipse-based virtualization tool framework offers a runtime environment for launching and testing applications. More »

A Virtualization Infrastructure
that Supports Pervasive Computing

Smart phones might well be the ideal platform for pervasive computing. Virtualization technology offers a practical means for the widespread deployment of the necessary middleware. More »

The Paradox of Security in Virtual Environments
Virtualization trims administrative overhead, eases system management, and combats OS-level security vulnerabilities. But it also exposes new vulnerabilities that can be detrimental to securing the system. More »

Leendert van Doorn and Jörg Brakensiek
on Virtual Machines

Virtual machine experts Leendert van Doorn and Jörg Brakensiek talk to IEEE Pervasive Computing magazine about the use of VMs in pervasive computing. More »

What else is new? »


System VirtualizationSystem virtualization is a method for executing applications in which the applications are installed in and executed by a software representation of a real computer called a system virtual machine. System VMs, in turn, run on top of a software layer called the hypervisor. System virtualization is the underpinning for a number of IT transformations, such as server consolidation, shorter application deployment times, and virtual desktops, and is a key driver for cloud computing.


System virtualization provides multiple benefits. For example, VMs encapsulate the application's persistent state and runtime environments, making it easy to deploy, version, manage, and migrate the application and improve application availability. Moreover, the host computer's physical characteristics are hidden from the applications and operating systems, improving application portability. Finally, hypervisors let multiple VMs run concurrently on the same host computer while isolating them from each other and interfacing them to the host computer's devices. Therefore, distrusted and trusted applications can run in parallel safely, even when they require very different runtime environments.

This Month's Theme

For the October 2009 theme of Computing Now, I selected five articles from IEEE Computer Society magazines that leverage and explore these benefits. The first three articles discuss the application of system virtualization, and the other two explore some of the issues that arise from its use.

In “Virtual Infrastructure Management in Private and Hybrid Clouds,” the authors describe two tools that greatly simplify deploying applications encapsulated in VMs onto computing resources provided by private and public clouds and scheduling these clouds’ capacity. The second article, “System Virtualization Tools for Software Development,” presents a tool that helps developers to quickly launch and test applications in production-level environments and could be deployed using the virtualized computing infrastructure described in the first article. “A Virtualization Infrastructure that Supports Pervasive Computing” discusses how developers and system operators can use encapsulation, isolation, and interposition to safely and securely deploy the middleware required for pervasive computing. They can also use these techniques to construct and deploy pervasive applications that require access to local and remote I/O streams.

The Paradox of Security in Virtual Environments” explores the benefits of virtualization and its security implications. “Leendert van Doorn and Jörg Brakensiek on Virtual Machines” explores some of the realities in using virtual machines as a platform for pervasive applications.

Related Resources

Numerous other articles touch on the issues relevant to system virtualization. We’d also like to know what you think about system virtualization, so take this month’s poll and voice your opinion.


Keith I. FarkasKeith Farkas is a staff engineer at VMware and a member of IEEE Pervasive Computing's editorial board. Contact him at kfarkas at vmware dot com.



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