September 30, 2013

Great Talks Mark First Xen Project User Summit

Greg-KH-Xen-SummitThe first Xen Project User Summit may be over, but it has left a fine legacy in its wake.  Co-located with LinuxCon and CloudOpen in New Orleans, the event featured some excellent talks covering a wide range of Xen-related subjects.  From clouds to orchestration, from hardware architectures to file systems, the Summit gave attendees much to think about.

The day began with the keynote address from Demetrios Coulis of CA Technology.  He described how CA's AppLogic product relies on the leading-edge capabilities provided by the Xen hypervisor to facilitate the product's virtualization fabric.

The Featured Talk of the afternoon session was Greg Kroah-Hartman, maintainer of the stable branch of the Linux kernel, who discussed some interesting concepts regarding the use of kexec to boot alternative kernels within a Xen VM.  He hopes to have a working model in time for the Xen Project Developer Summit in October.

Other highlights from the day's talks included:

  • Bryan's Smith's amusing introductory session called "Xen for Puppies" which explained basic Xen concepts using a variety of puppy photographs.  Even the most experienced among the attendees had to snicker at the images Bryan presented.
  • Olivier Lambert's outline of the Xen Orchestra project, which seeks to provide a useful web interface to XAPI and XenServer.  Xen Orchestra has been building fans in recent months with the work done so far.  And while there is plenty of work yet to do, it has definitely made considerable headway toward its goal.  Check out Olivier's slides to learn more, and if you are interested in developing a GUI for Xen, consider pitching in.
  • Karanbir Singh of the CentOS project discussed the task of adding the Xen hypervisor back into the distribution.
  • Patrick McGarry of Inktank clued us in on the Ceph filesystem and how it integrates with Xen.
  • And Larry Wikelius of Calxeda gave us a look into the future of Xen on ARM, telling us why it will be so very important.

Cloud technologies were well represented as well.  Paul Voccio of Rackspace gave us a run down of using Xen on OpenStack at Rackspace.  Then Chiradeep Vittal of Citrix Systems discussed network multi-tenancy of Xen clouds using CloudStack.

James Bulpin, CTO of XenServer, and I tried to clear up the confusion between Xen Project, XenServer, and XAPI.  A lot of people aren't sure where one ends and the next begins.  We helped to draw the lines and even gave the attendees a short quiz to see if they understood which was which.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Grant McWilliams' talk describing a Xen-based security appliance.  It's one of those case studies which challenges the mind, talking about a use of Xen which most people would not anticipate.  You can watch Grant's stimulating talk here.

 Karanbir Singh summed up the day nicely when he said, "There were some great opportunities for conversations and just meeting up with everyone.  Although we had a small audience on the day, it's generated no less than 20 emails to me and I suspect there might be a few more coming in the days down the road."

Even if you missed the Summit, you can still join in

Slides for many of the talks can be found in the presentation section of the website.  Videos of the talks themselves should be published over the next several days.  Check the videos list to see them as they become available.

The Xen Project is looking to create additional user-specific events in the future.  We'd love to hear your suggestions on how we can improve these events in the future.  Contact me at
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