Tuesday, August 11, 2009

JVM on “Bare Metal”

This past weekend, I watched a very good presentation by Mick Jordan, the lead on Sun’s Project Guest VM, discuss challenges and issues in porting Java VM to run directly on Xen hypervisor.

The motivation for virtualization at the Java VM-level is as follows:

  • Enhance performance by eliminating the OS layer and also removing some of the redundant activities in different layers (i.e. task management, memory management)
  • Simplify development & administration
  • Remove architectural constraints and restrictions at the OS layer to pave the way for more innovation

If you have any interest in the virtualization space, I highly recommend this talk. It is about 45 minutes long, but I think it is well worth it:

This is part of a broader research at Sun (Maxine) and borrows from other Sun projects such as VirtualBox. I think Sun is doing a really good job of evolving Java first as a platform and now as an extensible OS alternative.

As referenced in the presentation, other vendors have already done similar things i.e. BEA’s LiquidVM (on VMWare hypervisor), IBM J9 Libra (Xen):

Particularly for certain types of applications (i.e. trading), performance is a critical issue. Using virtualization without degrading performance amplifies business value.

The race for innovation and speed continues…

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