Tech Mesh London 2012

Presentation: "OCaml in the Cloud: How to build an Open Source Virtualisation Platform"

Track: Infrastructure & Messaging / Time: Wednesday 14:10 - 15:00 / Location: Virginia Woolf's

XenServer is an open source virtualization platform that powers some of the world's biggest enterprises, and drives the biggest clouds. A little known fact about XenServer is that it's central management server is written in OCaml. But how did this come about, you say? Why did we choose to write a critical, systems-level hypervisor management server in a high-level, functional language? From its humble beginnings in use as a document generator for our API, OCaml has served us well. It's quick compile times, fast native code and good C interface, strong static types and type inference, and even objects and classes, make it a great langauge for systems programming.

In this talk, we'll give an overview of XenServer's unique hypervisor architecture, and our future plans to push OCaml even further down the stack and create server applications that run on "bare metal," with no operating system between them and the hypervisor. We'll talk about all the features that make a OCaml a great langauge to use, as well as interesting new features we'd like to make use of in our software. And we'd like to remind everyone that it's possible for a small startup to write ""enterprise"" software in a non-mainstream language, and still get acquired by a big multinational."
Talk objectives: 
- Demonstrate that OCaml is a good language for userland as well as systems programming
- Disabuse people of the notion that using an esoteric functional programming language won't keep your startup from getting bought out
- Talk about the awesome features of OCaml that we love, as well as show off our cool new architecture changes, with OCaml in the cloud
Target Audience:
Developers interested in either functional languages or virtualization, as well as managers who might be surprised that "enterprise" software can be written in a language like OCaml.

Dave Scott, XenServer System Architect @ Citrix

Dave Scott

Biography: Dave Scott

Dave Scott is currently a Principal Architect at Citrix Systems where he helps make XenServer an even better platform for Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud computing than it is already. Previously while at XenSource (later bought by Citrix), Dave helped create the virtual machine management layer of XenServer, which involved large amounts of OCaml. Dave holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.
Dave's page