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Xen Project 2017 Predictions: The Growth and Changes of the Hypervisor in 2017 and More

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Stefano Stabellini and James Bulpin, Xen Project Members

The Growth and Changes of the Hypervisor in 2017 and More

Embedded systems become virtualized, IoT security concerns continue and the container community diversifies

The Xen Project hypervisor is an open source project under the Linux Foundation focused on advancing virtualization in a number of different commercial and open source applications including server virtualization, Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS), desktop virtualization, security applications, embedded and hardware appliances.

It is used by more than 10 million users and is a foundational component of some of the biggest clouds today, including Alibaba's Aliyun Cloud Services, Amazon Web Services, IBM Softlayer, Tencent, Rackspace and Oracle, to name a few. As the technology landscape changes, the hypervisor is beginning to emerge in new uses cases beyond the traditional server virtualization and IaaS clouds.

In this predictions piece, two members of the Xen Project, Stefano Stabellini and James Bulpin, provide insight on where the hypervisor is going in 2017 and other virtualization and infrastructure trends to watch out for in 2017.

What are a few of your general virtualization and infrastructure predictions for 2017?

Bulpin: We will see enterprises further embrace various types of public cloud as fears about cloud security are allayed. We will see "hybrid" solutions with a combination of cloud based management, access and hosting of general purpose applications, with on-premises data storage and hosting of more sensitive, and hard-to-move legacy applications.

Customers will tend to rebuild applications in a more cloud-centric manner, such as using a combination of SaaS applications and services and "serverless" architectures, rather than the wholesale moving of VMs from on-premises virtualization platforms to IaaS clouds.

Stabellini: Docker forks will gain traction under the Open Container Initiative umbrella, providing users with a choice of multiple containers runtimes. The approach of running cloud native apps as virtual machines will become well-known. Although Docker will stay in the lead for next year, one of the alternatives will grow a multi-vendor community. Kubernetes will be the top Open Source project of 2017, ahead of OpenStack and Docker.

Do you see virtualization seeping into any particular use cases (whether they are new or expanding)?

Stabellini: While cheap IoT devices will still be built and sold without considerations for security, virtualization will make its way into security sensitive embedded market sectors, such as the transportation industries, medical and high-end IoT devices. Open source and proprietary hypervisors alike will be used to isolate multiple components from each other on the same SoC.

Bulpin: Virtualization, in the hypervisor sense, will become a core part of several new use-cases and solutions. However, the hypervisor will become a somewhat hidden component rather than occupying the very visible position it has in server virtualization and IaaS clouds. For example, we'll see increased use of virtualization to isolate applications and services on client devices, such as Microsoft's Virtualization Based Security. In a similar manner we'll also see a continued growth in interest in combining the hardware-assisted isolation aspects of hypervisors with container runtime environments. In both cases this is bringing hypervisor-style isolation directly to the applications.

We'll also see a number of embedded systems become virtualized, partly due to the growing capabilities of low power devices from Intel and ARM as well as the ongoing drive to reduce costs and power consumption. Use-cases that will benefit from this will include automotive infotainment, navigation and delivery management systems; non safety-critical aviation systems; and low-cost multi-tenant satellites.

The challenges of IoT security, and the proliferation of hub and gateway devices, will generate interest in secure, tamper-proof, virtualized edge devices for domestic and commercial IoT use-cases.

The same fundamental factors that drove server virtualization will drive these new use-cases: consolidation of workloads onto a smaller set of hardware to reduce costs, power and space usage; abstraction of the hardware to allow applications to be decoupled from hardware specifics; and the benefit of hardware-based isolation to better protect against software defects and to contain failures.

What are the biggest security concerns in 2017?

Stabellini: The poor status of IoT security will allow malicious attackers to take over increasingly large botnets to perform deadly DDOS attacks. Anything from CCTV cameras to smart light bulbs will be used as vectors. We'll see half a dozen very high profile websites taken down at critical times over the next year. Even major public clouds will be affected.

Bulpin: Hypervisors, operating systems, and other infrastructure will continue to be a target for hackers however increasing maturity in these technologies, coupled with easier opportunities in IoT and poorly-secured cloud-based applications, will mean that many hackers, particularly opportunistic ones, move towards these softer targets. We will see several large-scale attacks launched from compromised IoT devices or targeting IoT devices themselves.

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About the Authors

James Bulpin is architect and technology director in the Citrix Core Infrastructure Group. He works on virtualization, cloud and IoT projects. James sits on the Xen Project advisory board and oversees a number of open-source engagements within Citrix. James has been in the virtualization and systems community for many years having previously worked at XenSource, Inc. and the University of Cambridge's Systems Research Group. Follow James on Twitter: @jamesbulpin

Stefano Stabellini serves as virtualization expert and Linux kernel lead at Aporeto, a VC funded early stage start-up in the Bay Area. Previously, as Senior Principal Software Engineer in Citrix, he led a small group of passionate engineers working on Open Source projects. Stefano has been involved in Xen development since 2007. He created libxenlight in November 2009 and started the Xen port to ARM with virtualization extensions in 2011. Today he is a Xen Project committer, and he maintains Xen on ARM and Xen support in Linux and QEMU. Follow Stefano on Twitter: @stabellinist

Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 9:05 AM by David Marshall
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Xen Project 2017 Predictions: The Growth and Changes of the Hypervisor in 2017 and More | Xen Project Blog - (Author's Link) - December 21, 2016 10:00 AM
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