In 2006 there was a lot of talk about virtualization, although it has been for around for quite some time. I think that during 2007 a lot of the promise of Virtualization in the desktop and server space will be realized and we will start to see widespread use of it. The attention on virtualisation during 2006 I think this is due to:

  • There was a lot of talk largely because PC servers are today used for more critical and demanding applications (haven’t we heard this for quite awhile? But it takes time for things to become a reality and sink in), and the management and utilization problems are growing to the proportions of those old demanding systems and applications that we got rid of ages ago, ironic perhaps?
  • CPU vendors realized this and started position products in this arena, both AMD and Intel have announced and are delivering CPU’s with hardware virtualization support. Others as well; Sun’s new multi-core T1 supports virtualization.
  • OpenSource Xen made it’s entry into the market, putting pressure on established vendors such as VMWare to provide more widespread solutions.
  • During 2007 we are seeing virtualization hardware support in commodity products (even most notebooks sold in 2007 will have virtualization support).
  • Windows Vista Server will support some type of virtualization.

What and why will it be used?
The most definite use is on servers where one will make administration a lot more managagle and make it easy to move complex applications (consisting of a number of components) between systems. I could however imagine using virtualization on my next laptop, image having a really small system that boots up and handles storage etc from where I could put my “application environment” (i.e. Windows), will make my 3 to 6-monthly reinstalls of Windows to keep it running ok a lot smoother (all my files will be on the small Linux file server). Maybe not the scenario that will be used by most computer users, but as the technology matures and is packaged even the less techy-savvy computer user will probally start using the technology.

Good time for specilist startups
There are a few Opensource providers that provide good technical solutions, but there is room for a number of local specialist startups that provide expertise and some packaged OpenSource solutions (together with custom software) around for example Xen.

History of Virtualization
Although virtualization has been around for quite some time since IBM invented the concept of virtual machines in 1967 and have been available in their mainframe servers, mid-range and later the UNIX (AIX) based servers. Other vendors have provided similar solutions through-out the years.
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