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The Next Virtualization Waves Are Forming

We are still in the beginning stages of realizing what virtualization can do. Where do we go from here?

Pete Manca's Blog

The virtualization "waves" are just forming. And while server virtualization is at full crest, there are many more waves behind this that are taking shape and quite frankly, are more significant.

Server virtualization was about saving money. Allowing multiple applications to be consolidated onto a single server saves capital and operational expenses. Reducing the number of servers running in the data center is a good thing, as it also saves some carbon emissions as well. But is that it? If so, that’s more like a ripple than a wave. Don’t get me wrong, reducing power, cooling, server count and consolidating apps is a good thing, but it's not the whole story. Not by a long shot.

I don’t believe that this is it. In fact, I think we are still in the beginning stages of realizing what virtualization can do. It’s really the enabling technology that fuels the ability to create new ways to solve problems that exist in today’s data center.

As with all great technology movements, a core set of technologies must be established first. Server virtualization is one for sure, but what are the others? I/O Virtualization might be the next important cornerstone technology. Without solving this problem, servers continue to be static and inflexible. We might be able to utilize servers more by virtue of the hypervisor, but we can’t exploit them to their fullest extent without the flexibility to change their I/O bindings dynamically. Other key virtualization technologies include file virtualization, data virtualization, and application virtualization. These are keys to making access to applications, data, and resources agile and ubiquitous.

Once the server, I/O, data, and applications are virtualized, the resulting possibilities and opportunities really are endless. These cornerstones open the market for management, security, converged fabrics, and a whole host of technologies that can free up the data center and open new markets.

Expect 2008 to be another banner year for virtualization. The next wave is here.

More Stories By Pete Manca

Pete Manca is CTO and EVP of Engineering, Egenera. He brings over 20 years' experience in enterprise computing to Egenera. His expertise spans a wide range of critical enterprise data center technologies including virtualization, operating systems, large-scale architectures and open standards. In particular, his leadership and experience in virtualization technologies has led to the continued progression of Egenera's advanced PAN (Processing Area Network) architecture. Manca leads product planning by working directly with customers to understand their most difficult challenges and guide Egenera's architecture, hardware and software engineering teams to translate those requirements into solutions. Prior to Egenera, he served as Vice President of Engineering at Hitachi Computer Products America with responsibility for operating systems and enterprise middleware products.

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Most Recent Comments
Pete Manca 03/12/08 02:52:09 PM EDT

Paul,

Thanks for your comments. You are, of course, correct that virtualization started with the mainframe. I am lucky enough - or old enough? :) - to have worked on mainframes and have blogged on the very same thing in the past (http://blogs.egenera.com/pete_manca/).

My point in this blog was that server virtualization is only part of the story in this new emerging x86 virtualization market and other complementary technologies, like IO virtualization, are just as important, if not more important, when trying to create a dynamic data center. In reality, the mainframe has been doing server virtualization and IO virtualization for years. It is just not that relevant in the discussion today around the emerging trends in data centers. That is not meant to be negative on the mainframe, a platform I have immense respect for, however, it is not really in the mix when discussing new wave virtualization technologies.

Pete

Paul Giangarra 03/11/08 09:18:02 PM EDT

To expand on a feedback I posted on 9 January to another similar article:

IBM commercially introduced virtualization in 1967, it's not the "next" big thing, it's been around for over 40 years. It JUST recently (even "recently" is a
relative statement over 40 years) was embraced and exploited by the x86 world, both AMD and Intel are finally stepping up and putting the hardware features in to support it better, features that have existed on other platforms for years.

What's more interesting today is to realize is that there are three logical virtualization layers:

1. HW virtualization (goes back to 1967) includes not just the processor and memory, but also storage, network, I/O, and more.

2. Middleware virtualization (goes back to the early 80s at least, unless you want to count IBM's two premier transaction managers CICS and IMS which are both 40 or more years old and provided for virtualized transactional services long before the 80's)

3. Service (SOA) virtualization, more recently formalized for Enterprise specific services.

Net is virtualization is finally "reaching" platforms like x86, but it is still no where near as sophisticated (and capable) as it has been for, in some cases, decades on platforms like IBM's System z and even IBM System p. What I find interesting is to watch these more mature systems and learn what the distributed world has to "work up to" someday.