The June 2014 Interview

XLcloud interview: Jean-Pierre Dion, XLcloud project leader

How would you present the XLcloud project?

XLcloud is a project which aims at providing an HPCaaS cloud platform, let's say a high performance cloud with a fully integrated management system.
The key innovative technology is the integration of GPU virtualization on top of the  OpenStack platform in a management system called XMS (XLcloud Management System).
It allows for a vertical integration of high performances applications from the hardware up to the applications. This approach delivers more flexibility and throughput. 

What is your role in the project?

My role is to lead the team developping the high performance cloud platform. This platform is then made available to the XLcloud partners who develop the use cases. We currently have three use cases that demonstrate the technology : cloud gaming, interventional radiology and computational fluid dynamics. 

I am also the overall coordinator of the project and the contact point for all partners. 

What key innovation do you bring to the table or help to develop?

We have several exciting challenges, they are all meant to improve the state of the art:
• the virtualization of the GPUs,
• the integration with OpenStack,
• the integration and the deployment of the use cases,
• the auto-scaling of the Vms or the bare-metal nodes and the auto-scaling  of the high perf apps in the cloud.

In order to reach these goals, we did a lot of actions :
We worked with folks at Citrix and nVidia to complete the support of PCI passthrough with Xen server and nVidia drivers.
We also worked with the OpenStack community on various subjects, in particular the Climate (now Blazar) project that we proposed and pushed for incubation in OpenStack, and the Ceilometer (now Telemetry) project. For both we pushed some code that was included in the trunk. We contributed on other modules to fix bugs and complete some functionnalities.
For the use cases, one of the most significant is the demonstration we made in our lab, playing Doom3 game. The players were in our partner's lab at Evry (close to Paris) and the game was running in our HPC cloud in Grenoble. No latency was experienced, the remote rendering was smooth and fast. The technology behind this is the combination of the XLcloud high performance cloud platform and the Remote Rendering technology of two partners who are specialized in very low latency software and remote rendering software.

Can you tell us about yourself and your organization?

Jean-Pierre Dion is a team leader and a project manager. Xlcloud is a small team of highly skilled R&D experts specializing in cloud, networking and virtualization...

Jean-Pierre is an R&D engineer in unix kernel and networking at the beginning. Now he is project manager and a team leader in various open source projects, mainly linux kernel and cloud OpenStack.


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