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Communications of the ACM


Containers Push Toward the Mayfly Server

shipping containters

Credit: HEP-CCE

The drive for efficiency in servers is changing the way applications and operating systems interact. The process has accelerated in just the past five years, as server-farm operators have moved on from virtual-machine technology as a way of improving hardware utilization toward even more streamlined options. The work has led as far as the operating system and application being compiled into one block of software and stripping out any unused services to reduce both memory footprint and startup times.

Speaking about a project he and fellow researcher Anil Madhavapeddy worked on to pursue more efficient server software, Richard Mortier, University Lecturer in the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory, says: "The original motivation that Anil and I had was that you should be able to write software for the cloud, particularly for network-connected services. But if we were to do that, what would it look like? Related to that was the idea that it should be possible to build software without having to worry about what platform it was targeted for."


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