Efficient Update Activation for Virtual Machines in IaaS Cloud Computing Environments

Hiroshi YAMADA  Shuntaro TONOSAKI  Kenji KONO  

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E97-D   No.3   pp.469-479
Publication Date: 2014/03/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.E97.D.469
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Software System
Cloud computing,  IaaS,  virtual machines,  software updates,  

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Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), a form of cloud computing, is gaining attention for its ability to enable efficient server administration in dynamic workload environments. In such environments, however, updating the software stack or content files of virtual machines (VMs) is a time-consuming task, discouraging administrators from frequently enhancing their services and fixing security holes. This is because the administrator has to upload the whole new disk image to the cloud platform via the Internet, which is not yet fast enough that large amounts of data can be transferred smoothly. Although the administrator can apply incremental updates directly to the running VMs, he or she has to carefully consider the type of update and perform operations on all running VMs, such as application restarts. This is a tedious and error-prone task. This paper presents a technique for synchronizing VMs with less time and lower administrative burden. We introduce the Virtual Disk Image Repository, which runs on the cloud platform and automatically updates the virtual disk image and the running VMs with only the incremental update information. We also show a mechanism that performs necessary operations on the running VM such as restarting server processes, based on the types of files that are updated. We implement a prototype on Linux and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. An experiment shows that our technique can synchronize VMs in an order-of-magnitude shorter time than the conventional disk-image-based VM method. Also, we discuss limitations of our technique and some directions for more efficient VM updates.