The U.S Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has built a “Wireless Emulation Lab” to support research in wireless mobile
networks. In our current experimentation environment, our researchers need the capability to run clusters of
heterogeneous nodes to model emulated wireless tactical networks where each node could contain a different operating
system, application set, and physical hardware. To complicate matters, most experiments require the researcher to have
root privileges. Our previous solution of using a single shared cluster of statically deployed virtual machines did not
sufficiently separate each user’s experiment due to undesirable network crosstalk, thus only one experiment could be run
at a time. In addition, the cluster did not make efficient use of our servers and physical networks. To address these
concerns, we created the Dynamically Allocated Virtual Clustering management system (DAVC). This system leverages
existing open-source software to create private clusters of nodes that are either virtual or physical machines. These
clusters can be utilized for software development, experimentation, and integration with existing hardware and software.
The system uses the Grid Engine job scheduler to efficiently allocate virtual machines to idle systems and networks. The
system deploys stateless nodes via network booting. The system uses 802.1Q Virtual LANs (VLANs) to prevent
experimentation crosstalk and to allow for complex, private networks eliminating the need to map each virtual machine
to a specific switch port. The system monitors the health of the clusters and the underlying physical servers and it
maintains cluster usage statistics for historical trends. Users can start private clusters of heterogeneous nodes with root
privileges for the duration of the experiment. Users also control when to shutdown their clusters.