Virtual Interfaces for Exploration of Heterogeneous and Cloud Computing Architectures

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 4:00pm4:45pm

Hal Martin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County


In recent years data center operations have evolved into extensive infrastructures that can support of a wide range of computing paradigms, from traditional application hosting and data storage to service oriented architectures (SOAs) and emerging cloud services. Offering various mixes of software, platform, and infrastructure as a service (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), more recent advances in software defined networking (SDN), combined with ubiquitous computing and IP convergence (voice, video, data) on end-point devices such as smart phones and tablets, have only added complexity to the delivery of business services.

This situation is further complicated by recent waves of mergers and acquisitions of these services by competing firms. In the commercial sector this has resulted in the creation of hybrid infrastructure resulting from the combination of the many different post-merger sites. These conglomerations are a soup of disparate applications, operating systems, data storage, communications protocols and networking fabrics, with various service and maintenance arrangements. The result is that information technology departments are tasked with satisfying an ever expanding set of requirements and diversifying technical base. One of the most daunting tasks post aggregation is the initial discovery and remote evaluation of the newly acquired, unexplored, legacy data center and network computing resources by an IT staff.

When faced with performing discovery tasks, IT staff can be highly constrained by factors such as distance, time, risk identification, and knowledge from both a technology and corporate IT history standpoint. Research is required to understand the best practices for initial reconnaissance, combined with ongoing monitoring and analytics of the newly integrated infrastructure. This requires innovation in both system administration methods and tools. While there have been some recent commercial advances, these IT vendor tool suites are expensive, complicated, and require significant resources to deploy. Their code base and underlying methods remain proprietary. To advance the scientific understanding of these practices, we require assemblages of open source software tools and careful evaluation of human actors.

This effort is focused on advancing the discipline by two contributions. The first is developing an instrumented evaluation test bed that provides generic infrastructure services, general user activity, and advanced computing constructs (Cloud, Software Defined Networking, etc.) in a simulated data center environment (SDCE). It is intended to enable a wide class of independent and academic researchers the ability to simulate larger, more expense data centers by using open source software, academic licensing, and more affordable hardware. The second part is a Virtual, Interactive, Collaboration and Information Exchange Environment (VICkIEE), via an integrated virtual machine, for performing such evaluations. Combined, these two components can be used for validating various data center configurations, evaluation methodologies, and tool suites for use in this task. The VICkIEE is intended to be a real time, multi-tool, windowed UI with a shared collaborative interface to support multiple simultaneous system analysts. By remotely deploying the VICkIEE into a data center environment, operations can be performed with the same fidelity that local access provides.

Hal Martin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Hal Martin is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. His research interests lie primarily in computer security and large systems architectures. He is a 20+ year veteran of the Federal IT space around Washington, D.C., and his professional work has centered on system administration, implementing security architectures, certification and accreditation, Red Team activity, advanced capabilities development, and software assurance policy for various cyber initiatives.

@conference {208476,
author = {Hal Martin},
title = {Virtual Interfaces for Exploration of Heterogeneous and Cloud Computing Architectures},
year = {2016},
address = {Boston, MA},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = dec,