Research tackles powering the virtual data center

The proliferation of virtualization, with multiple virtual machines and applications running on a single piece of hardware, has made this task a lot more complicated

Data center managers are well versed in distributing power efficiently to physical servers. But the proliferation of virtualization, with multiple virtual machines and applications running on a single piece of hardware, has made this task a lot more complicated.

That's why a Duke University researcher has partnered with Microsoft researchers to design a system that monitors the power needs of individual virtual machines and distribute power based on application priorities.

Currently, IT shops use tools to over-subscribe power distribution, provisioning less power to applications than they could theoretically use, figuring that applications typically won't hit their peak power load.

But while that method works out well on physical servers, it falls short with virtual machines, Harold Lim of Duke said while giving a talk at the annual Usenix technical conference in Portland, Ore.

MORE FROM USENIX: Want to stop cybercrime? Follow the money

It's easy to cap the power to a whole server, but hard to cap the power of individual virtual machines and differentiate between applications. What's needed is an application-aware power distribution system that has visibility into the virtual machine layer, he said.

Lim, along with Aman Kansal and Jie Liu of Microsoft Research, designed a virtualized power shifting (VPS) system that budgets power with these considerations in mind.

VPS dynamically shifts power among various distributed components to efficiently utilize the total available power budget, as workloads and power availability vary," they write. "Power is distributed among application components in the correct proportions to achieve the best performance. The system respects application boundaries and differentiates performance based on priorities."

The system, they say, is more granular than existing technologies both in terms of examining individual VMs and providing customization in the method of power distribution. One challenge is making sure that throttling one set of applications doesn't affect another.

"In contrast to existing techniques that use only one power control knob, typically frequency scaling, VPS uses multiple power control knobs and selects the optimal combinations of power settings to optimize performance within the available power budget," the researchers write.

VPS shifts power dynamically as workloads change, and as power availability changes. The system should be able to handle a sudden drop in the power budget, Lim said.

But it's still a work in progress. For example, the question of how to automatically shut down servers and move virtual machines from one box to another is unresolved. But given that live migration is already offered with hypervisors by the likes of VMware and Microsoft, it seems likely the capability could be integrated into future power management systems.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftData Centervirtualizationhardware systemsConfiguration / maintenanceDuke University

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?