We are proud to announce the launch of the ENTICE project took place in the evocative surrounds of Innsbruck this month. Our consortium of leading research organisations and universities will combine with leading commercial partners from across Europe and set out to defeat a set of critical barriers that prevent many users from industry, business and academia from effectively using Cloud resources and virtualised environments for their computing and data processing needs.

Meeting for the first time in Innsbruck, Austria, our project partners began work on addressing the five identified barriers that we have set out to overcome:

  1. Manual, error-prone and time consuming VM image creation,
  2. Monolithic VM images with large deployment and migration overheads,
  3. Proprietary un-optimised VM repositories,
  4. Inelastic resource provisioning, and
  5. Lack of information to support effective VM image optimisation.

Drawing together experience experts in the fields of research and industry, the ENTICE consortium contains partners from Spain, Slovenia, Hungary and the UK ad will be led by the University of Innsbruck, in Austria.

In this project, we will research and create a novel VM repository and operational environment named ENTICE for federated Cloud infrastructures aiming to:

  • Simplify the creation of lightweight and highly optimised VM images tuned for functional descriptions of applications;
  • Automatically decompose and distribute VM images based on multi-objective optimisation (performance, economic costs, storage size, and QoS needs) and a knowledge base and reasoning infrastructure to meet application runtime requirements; and
  • Elastic auto-scale applications on Cloud resources based on their fluctuating load with optimised VM interoperability across Cloud infrastructures and without provider lock-in, in order to finally fulfill the promises that virtualization technology has failed to deliver so far.

Virtualization is a key technology in Cloud computing that allows users to run multiple virtual machines (VM) with their own application environment on top of physical hardware. Virtualization enables scaling up and down of applications by elastic on-demand provisioning of VMs in response to their variable load to achieve increased utilisation efficiency at a lower operational cost, while guaranteeing the desired level of Quality of Service (QoS, such as response time) to the end-users. Typically, VMs are created using provider specific templates (so-called VM images) that are stored in proprietary repositories, leading to provider lock-in and hampering portability or simultaneous usage of multiple federated Clouds. In this context, optimisation at the level of the VM images is needed both by the applications and by the underlying Cloud providers for improved resource usage, operational costs, elasticity, storage use, and other desired QoS-related features.

Existing research mostly focuses on pre-optimising algorithms, which are not applicable to already available VM images. With its VM synthesiser, ENTICE will extend preoptimising approaches so that image dependency descriptions are mostly automatically generated. The project will also introduce new comprehensive post-optimising algorithms so that existing VM images can be automatically adapted to dynamic Cloud environments.

ENTICE project aims to achieve a major breakthrough in simplified, storage-efficient and cost-effective creation, usage, and portability of VM images to dramatically improve elasticity and load balancing across federated Cloud infrastructures. ENTICE will reach far beyond existing systems by its unique and highly ambitious goal to distribute VM images across Cloud infrastructures for multiple possibly conlicting optimisation objectives including performance and QoS-related goals, operational costs, and storage from which applications and Cloud providers can bene_t. In the following we describe the most important research challenges that must be addressed to bring the current state-of-the-art to a new innovation level.

We’d love to hear what you think about the ENTICE project and are always keen to hear from collaboration partners and other interested stakeholders. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss any aspect of the project and to find out more.