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How Joyent Uses OS Virtualization to Deliver its Manta Object Storage Platform

According to an article published on Datanami, the infrastructure service cloud provider, Joyent, has plunged deeper into the big data game with Manta, their own cloud object store and data services platform that they claim will serve to spur a wave of big data innovation in the cloud.

The recently announced Manta is described as a highly scalable, distributed object storage service with integrated compute.  We caught up with Joyent Senior Vice President of Engineering, Bryan Cantrill, who oversees the development of Joyent’s core platform, to talk about their latest step into the big data arena and where they are going with Manta.

Cantrill explained that Joyent differentiates themselves from competitors like Amazon and Rackspace through their fundamental approach to the entire stack. “In order to be able to innovate up-stack with cloud services, you need to own the entire stack of software, down to the hardware,” he said, noting that Joyent owns their own operating system, the hypervisor, and language runtime. This, he explained, allows them, with Manta, to attempt new ways to virtualize which he says others can’t provide.

“There is another way to virtualize, which is to do it not in terms of hardware, but in terms of the OS,” he explained. “Instead of giving a tenant a virtual microprocessor, you give them a virtual operating system that looks and feels and smells like its own machine, but it’s actually at a higher layer of abstraction.”

What this means, he says, is that the applications that run in a virtual OS actually run on the hardware with no intervening second operating system in the stack. Cantrill explains using a tenant who wants to spin up some infrastructure with a gigabyte of DRAM. In the hardware virtualized model, the hypervisor needs to take a gigabyte of DRAM and give that to the operating system that is sitting on top of the virtual hardware. "Now if you put your app on top of virtual hardware that only uses 500 megabytes of DRAM, there’s 500 megabytes left there that is simply lost to the sytem,” he says, explaining that the system has no real way of reclaiming it.

Read more on Datanami

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