Span Virtualization: Multi-hypervisor Virtual Machines

Public cloud software marketplaces already offer users a wealth of choice in operating systems, database management systems, financial software, and virtual networking, all deployable and configurable at the click of a but- ton. Unfortunately, this level of customization has not extended to emerging hypervisor-level services, partly because traditional virtual machines (VMs) are fully controlled by only one hypervisor at a time. Currently, a VM in a cloud platform cannot concurrently use hypervisor- level services from multiple third-parties in a compartmentalized manner. We propose the notion of a multi- hypervisor VM, which is an unmodified guest that can simultaneously use services from multiple coresident, but isolated, hypervisors. We present a new virtualization architecture, called Span virtualization, that leverages nesting to allow multiple hypervisors to concurrently control a guest’s memory, virtual CPU, and I/O resources. Our prototype of Span virtualization on the KVM/QEMU platform enables a guest to use services such as introspection, network monitoring, guest mirroring, and hypervisor refresh, with performance comparable to traditional nested VMs.


  • Providing choice of services to VMs in cloud Compartmentalization of services.
  • Reducing trusted computing base.
  • Improved robustness via software rejuvenation.


Binghamton University RB542

Patent Information:
Technology/Start-up ID: