[occi-wg] Terminology: containers, workloads, templates and instances

Strong, Paul pstrong at ebay.com
Wed Oct 28 19:19:24 CDT 2009

This area is always fun.  IMHO the name should be less important than
the definition of the thing that we name :o)  But that doesn't stop the
One potential problem I see with workload is that it is commonly used in
reference to an application or service or to types of such things, as in
transactional workloads, compute intensive workloads and so forth.   Is
this a problem?  Probably not as long as define it properly and the
context(s) within which to use it.
However, as you say, in the grand scheme of things one person's workload
can be another's container.  How do you intend to capture this, i.e.
that a physical server hosts a hypervisor (a kind of operating system)
that hosts a number of virtual servers that each host an operating
system (which could itself be a hypervisor) which may host one or more
JVMs, which host etc. etc.  The challenge we have is to create a model
and set of terms which is simple and clear within the context of the
current problem we are solving, which is extensible (enough) as the use
case set grows and which is reasonably consistent with other
models/definitions.  Attached is a diagram we found useful in the OGF
reference model working group.  It attempts to capture the various
conceptual layers.  You can see this is old because N1 Grid
Containers(c2003) = Solaris Containers (Zones plus Solaris cpu, mem and
network IO controls).  :o) 
Anyway, in the OGF reference model we have chosen not to explicitly
separate containers and workloads, or services and resources, but rather
we have the notion of (managed) components that can have structural
relationships (hosts, is composed of) and interaction relationships
(network traffic flow, transaction flow) with other components.  These
components are specialized into Servers (physical or logical), operating
systems (which include hypervisors and traditional OSes) and so forth.
Avoiding giving the components names that imply relationships with other
components has provided some conceptual flexibility :o)  One of our
(eBay) internal tools uses this model as its basis and renders it as
RDF, allowing us to model, capture and query various patterns and
relationships within our infrastructure.
Actually this would be a good point to engage with the OGF Ref Model
group.  They (inc me) would be very interested in using OCCI to help
drive the ref model forward, to improve/correct it (ref model) and so
forth.  Our goal is something that is not necessarily exhaustive, but
rather something that is definitely useful :o)  We want to capture the
lifecycle of the components (container, workload, whatever) as well as
their structure/relationships.  
Anyway you get the idea I am sure.  It would perhaps be useful to hold a
joint discussion or two with the ref model folks (mainly Dave Snelling &
I) to see whether we can help each other at all.


From: occi-wg-bounces at ogf.org [mailto:occi-wg-bounces at ogf.org] On Behalf
Of Sam Johnston
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 4:07 PM
To: occi-wg at ogf.org
Subject: [occi-wg] Terminology: containers, workloads,templates and

Evening all, 

I've attached some notes Andy took from a call at the weekend as well as
a diagram I whipped up today which I hope will help us to use common
terminology and avoid the ambiguous term "virtual machine" (which can
refer both to the host and the guest, or both together - as distinct
from what we mean when we say "java virtual machine"). The proposed
terminology is also generic and thus compatible with any work we do in
the future at the platform and/or application layers (as deployed
applications look just like virtual machines in that they can be
started, stopped, etc.).

*	Container refers to the host of an individual workload (e.g. an
empty virtual machine [host], runtime, interpreter, etc.) 
*	Workload refers to a generic load that the user wishes to
execute in the cloud (e.g. virtual machine files [guest], RoR app,
JAR/WAR, etc.) 

	*	Template refers to a COPYable workload that cannot be
run (e.g. a public AMI) 
	*	Instance refers to a workload that is currently
allocated and consuming resources (e.g. a running or suspended virtual

Some of you may recall similar terminology back when we were writing the
charter but our model ended up going in a different direction. The
reason it's come back up now is that we're getting down to the details
(like running instances vs the [possibly immutable] template from which
they were started) and not using common language causes confusion from
time to time.

In terms of how we model these things for cloud infrastructure:

*	Containers are like reservations (though the resources may or
may not be actually reserved). If you create a blank server in VMware
vCloud express for example there's an entity that you will be billed for
regardless of whether you start it or even point it at an image.
Similarly you can pay Amazon for a "reserved instance" and then get
cheaper hourly rates for it. Think of it like a virtual dedicated
server. These can be modeled via "empty" compute resources - that is,
ones which have metadata such as allocated cores and memory, but no
entity-body (e.g. OVF payload). 
*	Workloads are whatever the user wants to run in your cloud. This
could be anything from a script to a complex, multi-VM OVF file ("vApp"
in VMware parlance). These are generally referred to as templates or

	*	Templates are resources that cannot be directly started
(e.g. don't advertise start, stop, restart, etc. actions), rather
needing a COPY to a new location as an "instance" first. Rather than
having to reverse engineer the available actions these are identified by
a predetermined "template" category. 
	*	Instances are resources that are allocated (e.g. can be
started, stopped, restarted, etc.). These are the default and can be
identified by the presence of an entity-body (e.g. OVF payload) and
absence of the "template" category. 

We discussed this on the call today and it wasn't contentious but if you
have feedback then fire away,


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