Most applications that run in the cloud aren’t optimised to do so. They inherently carry assumptions about the underlying operating system with them, including vulnerabilities and bloat. Mirage represents an approach where only the necessary components are included, allowing for highly efficient and extremely lean ‘appliances’. These can be deployed in environments ranging from Amazon’s EC2 to the Raspberry Pi.
Compartmentalisation of large servers into smaller ‘virtual machines’ has enabled many new businesses to get started and achieve scale. This has been great for new services but many of those virtual machines are single-purpose and yet they contain largely complete operating systems which themselves run applications like web-servers. This means a large part of the footprint is unused and unnecessary, which is both costly and a security risk.
Mirage represents a new approach to deploying and managing services that are designed to be small, lean and secure. By turning software into these small ‘appliances’, Mirage can take full advantage of the cloud while dramatically reducing costs and simultaneously increasing security and scalability.
We’ve presented Mirage at two conferences recently and are rapidly working towards a developer preview. You can catchup by reading the ASPLOS 2013 paper, or by checking out the slides below from the talk at OSCON 2013.
There’s much more information on the completely self-hosted Mirage website (running as a Xen appliance), where you’ll find the full list of papers, an up to date blog and installation instructions, to help you get started quickly. The source code and libraries are available on GitHub
<iframe src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/25360521" width="100%" height="400" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="max-width:476px;border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px" allowfullscreen="true" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true">oscon-2013</iframe>