Unikernels

Beyond Containers to the Next Generation of Cloud

Unikernels

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The cloud has ushered in a new era of computing, but its tenants still use old-school methods to deploy poorly secured, resource-hogging applications. This 40-page report provides a high-level overview of unikernels: small, secure, and fast workloads that could usher in a new phase in cloud computing.

Author Russell Pavlicek examines several key problems that unikernels address. Virtual machines loaded with full operating systems and thousands of utilities don’t make sense in the cloud. They waste resources and provide a wide attack surface with a target-rich environment, as demonstrated by massive data breaches in the past few years.

Unikernels use only the OS resources necessary make their applications work. Because these single-address-space machine images introduce low-level OS operations at compile time, they typically measure just kilobytes in size, with tiny attack surfaces.

With this report, you’ll examine:

  • What a unikernel is and why it should matter to you
  • What their development, testing, and deployment stages look like
  • How unikernels derive from embedded programming
  • Why unikernels help reduce data-center resource overload
  • How unikernels could significantly increase cloud security
  • Key projects, including MirageOS, HaLVM, LING, and ClickOS
  • Ecosystem projects that support the development and use of unikernels
  • Limitations to consider when adopting unikernel-based solutions
  • Future developments, including integration with Docker and possible fusion with container technology

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Russell Pavlicek

Russell Pavlicek

Russell has spent over two decades evangelizing Open Source. Since his introduction to Linux in 1995, he has relentlessly promoted the concept of Open Source to anyone who would listen. He recently spent 3 years serving as the evangelist for Xen Project. He has over 200 pieces published, including columns for Infoworld and Processor magazines and one book. He has spoken over 100 times at Open Source conferences, including most of the biggest Linux conferences in North America. A former panelist on The Linux Show weekly webcast, he also has many years of experience employing Open Source software in solutions for clients.