Computer cluster in virtual machines

Computer cluster in virtual machines

Computer clusters run usually on physical computers. With the virtualization approach there are new possibilities of setting up different kinds of clusters.

There are different categorizations of such clusters, depending

  • on the type of underlying virtualization, and
  • of the level, where some Cluster Manager is running.

This article currently describes only high-availability clusters.

Note that the implementation sections give only some typical examples of the described cases - this is not a list of all available configurations.



Because there are different sets of terms meaning the same concept, here is a small list of definitions used in this article. Things not defined here, can be found in the Computer Clusters article.

Host System

The Host System is the hardware and the virtualization software, like a hypervisor.

Guest System

The Guest System is the operating system that is running atop a Host System. Sometimes this is called Virtual Machine, but mostly every vendor of virtualization technology has its own name for this.

Cluster Manager

The Cluster Manager as used in this article, is software handling all the things that are needed in a computer cluster environment, e. g. supervision of resources (processes, IP Addresses, ...), restarting of resources, handling of failover.

Cluster Service

A Cluster Service is a service (application) running under control of a Cluster Manager. This is sometimes also called Process Resource.

Virtual vs. Physical

Virtual Cluster Nodes on one Host System

All the cluster nodes [note: a definition for node is needed above as that term is not defined or linked - one can only assume that "node" is synonymous to "guest" as defined above when used in a cluster] are all running on the same Host System. This does not increase any availability of the applications in case of a hardware outage, therefore it is mostly only used during development and testing of a Cluster Service.

Example: LinuxHA on Xen

Different Guest Systems run on one Host System. The Host System uses Xen as virtualization technology. The Guest Systems use Linux-HA for the high availability.[1] [note: this example does not help in clarifying the concepts being defined and appears a gratuitous mention of a specific vendor]

Virtual Cluster Nodes on different Host Systems

All nodes of the cluster are running on different Host Systems. This gives the same availability of the underlying cluster technology in case of a hardware outage and also gives the possibility to live migrate one virtual cluster node to another Host System for maintenance of a Host System.

Virtual - Physical Cluster

This scenario only makes sense for high availability failover clusters. One node is running on the physical machine the other on a Guest System. The normal way of operation is, that everything runs on the physical machine, only when there is a failure, the node on the Guest System gets control. The advantage of this scenario is, that it is possible to run some failover nodes in some Guest Systems of the same Host System. So it is possible to save mostly all of the additional second nodes. The disadvantage is, that the virtualized computer may not handle the load, when all physical nodes stop working at the same time.

Cluster Manager Level

Cluster Manager only in Guest Systems

The Cluster Manager runs only on a Guest System level. Two (or more) Guest Systems run as a cluster.

Example: Solaris Cluster in Guest Systems

There is an experiment from SUN running Solaris Cluster atop VMware.[2]

Example: openMosix for Xen

It is possible to run different Guest Systems atop Xen as an openMosix cluster.[3]

Cluster Manager only on Host Systems

The Cluster Manager is running on the Host System level. It supervises the Guest Systems themselves and can react on some event: e. g. to restart the Guest System on another machine.

Example: VMware HA

The VMware HA can restart Guest Systems when they fail.[4]

Independent Cluster Manager on Guest and Host Systems

This is adds the features of the Guest Only and the Host Only Clustering.

Integrated Cluster Manager on Guest and Host System

The Cluster Manager is running in the Host and Guest System level and knows about resources (e.g. processes) inside a Guest System and also about whole Guest Systems. It can therefor react on problems inside a Guest System or even of a problem with a whole Guest System, when e.g. the Guest System hangs.


For HA clusters, the benefit for using virtual nodes is that even during hardware maintenance, all cluster nodes stay available. This can be achieved live by migrating one Virtual Cluster Node from the Host System that must be maintained to some other Host System.


  1. ^ Maurer, Ryan: Xen Virtualization and Linux Clustering
  2. ^ Sun Cluster Oasis
  3. ^ openMosix, an Open Source Linux Cluster Project
  4. ^ VMware: Provide High Availability at a Lower Cost

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Computer cluster — Not to be confused with data cluster. A computer cluster is a group of linked computers, working together closely thus in many respects forming a single computer. The components of a cluster are commonly, but not always, connected to each other… …   Wikipedia

  • Cluster (computing) — A computer cluster is a group of linked computers, working together closely so that in many respects they form a single computer. The components of a cluster are commonly, but not always, connected to each other through fast local area networks.… …   Wikipedia

  • Virtual machine — A virtual machine (VM) is a completely isolated guest operating system installation within a normal host operating system .[1] Modern virtual machines are implemented with either software emulation or hardware virtualization or (in the most… …   Wikipedia

  • Computer — For other uses, see Computer (disambiguation). Computer technology redirects here. For the company, see Computer Technology Limited. Computer …   Wikipedia

  • Computer architecture — In computer science and engineering, computer architecture is the practical art of selecting and interconnecting hardware components to create computers that meet functional, performance and cost goals and the formal modelling of those systems.… …   Wikipedia

  • Virtual synchrony — is an interprocess messaging passing (sometimes called event queue management) technology. Virtual synchrony systems allow programs running in a network to organize themselves into process groups , and to send messages to groups (as opposed to… …   Wikipedia

  • Computer network — Computer networks redirects here. For the periodical, see Computer Networks (journal). Datacom redirects here. For other uses, see Datacom (disambiguation). Internet map. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that… …   Wikipedia

  • Virtual reality — This article is about the sensory technology. For the Alan Ayckbourn play, see Virtual Reality (play). For the gamebook series, see Virtual Reality (gamebooks). U.S. Navy personnel using a VR parachute trainer …   Wikipedia

  • Computer multitasking — In computing, multitasking is a method where multiple tasks, also known as processes, share common processing resources such as a CPU. In the case of a computer with a single CPU, only one task is said to be running at any point in time, meaning… …   Wikipedia

  • History of virtual learning environments — A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a system that creates an environment designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially a system using computer hardware and software, which involves… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”