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Xen and the art of web hosting

Posted on | January 8, 2008 | 5 Comments

I’m working on a pretty comprehensive book aimed at helping web hosting providers adopt Xen for some of their offerings. Xen ‘out of the box’ is a really nice platform designed to make as many people happy as possible. Web hosts have special needs that require special planning, a guide to planning and implementing Xen for IAAS providers would be entirely useful.

I’m planning on releasing the work under the GFDL (GNU Free Documentation License) so collaborators are more than welcome. Contact me if your interested in participating.

Things to cover would be (but not limited to)

  • Physical layer and topology (switches, routers, etc)
  • Types of storage (quirks and benefits of each)
  • Selecting hardware for Xen nodes
  • Building from source vs relying on the OS packages
  • More in depth explanation of network options (bridging, routing, failover, shaping, throttling, etc)
  • Accounting system design (Bandwidth, CPU usage, etc)
  • Overview of many available tools (libvirt, enomalism, xen-tools and dozens more)
  • Logistical issues (distributed locking, migration, etc)
  • Administrative pitfalls

… likely, a lot more. It really is a book when you consider the topics like network storage. Almost an entire chapter would be devoted to explaining the differences between using iscsi on dom-0 to feed guests block devices from network storage, or just using initiators in the guests. AoE, lvm/clvm, gfs and ocfs2 have their own quirks when it comes to Xen as well. Extra quirks come due to the fact that hosts can’t hope to predict their I/O, so it should be interesting to cover.

You’re probably saying “Why not just make a wiki?”. I thought about it, I have no interest in dealing with editorial wars. I’m pretty sold on doing this in asciidoc format and using Mercurial to manage revisions. Once the text is done, its easily converted to wiki markup.

Again, this is not a ‘regular’ book on Xen, its quite specific to deploying Xen as an IAAS provider. Should be fun :)


5 Responses to “Xen and the art of web hosting”

  1. Cem
    January 11th, 2008 @ 12:05 am

    Well, can’t wait to read it ;) Keep it up !

  2. tinkertim
    January 11th, 2008 @ 12:09 am

    I’m getting some interest from other contributors, some of them already have books on Xen published in various languages.

    Its more of a question of when (not if) it will happen, so I’m pretty stoked :)

    Cheers Cem! Bottoms up!

  3. Ozz Nixon
    February 27th, 2008 @ 3:56 am

    We would love to work with you on this, sharing experiences we have had – both good and bad. Our labs are used to prototype different solutions before deployment into our production environment. Our latest xenolution is which is in beta as we are about to rollout another rollout with XenMotion in place – goal 10 million hits a day to see Xen 4.0.96 in action.

    Feel free to email me to continue discussion on this.

    Ozz Nixon 3F, LLC

  4. brian
    July 2nd, 2008 @ 1:09 am

    I’m looking forward to reading this!

  5. tinkertim
    July 7th, 2008 @ 2:56 pm

    I’m really getting to work on this now. Some new stuff just showed up in xen-unstable (overcommitting memory) which was expected to appear eventually.

    Xen is very much a moving target, I wanted to wait for this to happen prior to writing .. or any book would just be instantly obsolete and inaccurate :)

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