2006 USENIX Annual Technical Conference Abstract
Pp. 114 of the Proceedings
Antfarm: Tracking Processes in a Virtual Machine Environment
Stephen T. Jones, Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau, and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau, University of Wisconsin, Madison
In a virtualized environment, the VMM is the system's primary resource manager.
Some services usually implemented at the OS layer, like I/O scheduling or
certain kinds of security monitoring, are therefore more naturally implemented
inside the VMM. Implementing such services at the VMM layer can be complicated
by the lack of OS and application-level knowledge within a VMM. This paper
describes techniques that can be used by a VMM to independently overcome part of
the "semantic gap" separating it from the guest operating systems it supports.
These techniques enable the VMM to track the existence and activities of
operating system processes. Antfarm is an implementation of these techniques
that works without detailed knowledge of a guest's internal architecture or
implementation. An evaluation of Antfarm for two virtualization environments
and two operating systems shows that it can accurately infer process events
while incurring only a small 2.5% runtime overhead in the worst case. To
demonstrate the practical benefits of process information in a VMM we implement
an anticipatory disk scheduler at the VMM level. This case study shows that
significant disk throughput improvements are possible in a virtualized
environment by exploiting process information within a VMM.
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