Virtual Clusters for Hands-On Linux Cluster Construction Education

Paul Marshall, Michael Oberg, Nathan Rini, Theron Voran, Matthew Woitaszek. Virtual Clusters for Hands-On Linux Cluster Construction Education. In 11th LCI International Conference on High-Performance Clustered Computing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, March 2010.

This paper presents the design and implementation of a virtual clusterhosting platform for hands-on Linux cluster system administration education. Using operating system and network virtualization, a collection of physical hosts is used to provide an arbitrary number of Linux clusters suitable for supporting instructional exercises in system administration and cluster technology. Our virtual cluster provisioning software installs and manages the physical nodes that serve as virtual machine containers and also automates the deployment and contextualization of virtual cluster nodes. Ethernet 802.1Q VLANs are used to completely isolate each virtual cluster's internal node network, supporting the inclusion of multicast-based software as part of participant exercises. The managed hosting approach provides the ability to mediate and monitor each virtual cluster's access to the Internet external from the virtual cluster itself, supervise student exercise progress from an instructional host, and assert low-level control over virtual hosts to assist participants when necessary. This virtual cluster hosting platform was successfully utilized to provide 26 clusters for over 100 participants in a Linux Cluster Construction tutorial at Supercomputing 2009.

@inproceedings{201003-lci2010-virtualclusters,
      Address = {Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA},
      Author = {Marshall, Paul and Oberg, Michael and Rini, Nathan and Voran, Theron and Woitaszek, Matthew},
      Booktitle = {11th LCI International Conference on High-Performance Clustered Computing},
      Keywords = {virtualization; Linux clusters; cluster education; system administration education; training; tutorials},
      Month = March,
       Title = {Virtual Clusters for Hands-On {L}inux Cluster Construction Education},
      Year = 2010,}