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Seminar: From Unikernels to Nabla Containers and Beyond: In Search of a New Unit of Execution for the Cloud

Dan Williams

Research Staff Member, IBM

Monday, February 22, 2021
Zoom Only

Dan Williams


The unit of execution on the cloud is changing.  In this talk, I will describe how unikernels emerged as an alternative to 1) well-isolated but heavyweight virtual machines (VMs) and 2) poorly-isolated but lightweight containers.  Moreover, I will show the advantages of blurring the best parts of both VMs and containers in the context of unikernels, ultimately surfacing as IBM Nabla Containers.  Finally, I will describe how the lessons learned through unikernels are influencing the next generation of virtualization-enabled containers and microVMs in the cloud.


Dan Williams is a Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Lab in Yorktown Heights, NY, where he has been for 10 years following his PhD studies at Cornell University.  His research interests center around systems, especially OS kernels, virtualization and security.  He has most recently been working on unikernels and secure containers for the cloud and is known in the open-source community for being the original author of the Solo5 unikernel base and co-creating IBM Nabla containers.