Declarative configuration management in Apache VCL reservations

OData support
Dr. Kocsis Imre
Department of Measurement and Information Systems

Apache Virtual Computing Cloud (VCL) is an open source project mainly developed for academic purposes which enables students to work on physical and virtual computers of the institute’s laboratory by using dynamic reservations. The main goal of VCL is that academic lecturers are able to make preconfigured computer environments available for students, which makes preparing special software environments much easier.

VCL can be very flexibly used by students, but it is not that flexible for lecturers since maintaining and upgrading environments are really complicated processes as they need the environments to be reloaded and recaptured. These tasks need lots of human work, and in addition they are quite difficult to perform and are not well documented. Besides, the environments need to be upgraded one by one even when they have only slightly different configurations.

During my Thesis I am giving a solution which eliminates this problem by integrating a declarative software configuration management platform called Chef into VCL, which enables to assign any configuration to the various environments. This solution helps build any type of infrastructure during the reservation which makes VCL even more flexible and saves time for the lecturers as they only need to maintain one environment for customizing the same operating system. This solution also reduces storage needed as it allows minimizing the number of environments. The solution also supports VCL Cluster Reservations.


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