Virtualization at Every

By eweek  |  Posted 2007-08-01 Print this article Print

Layer "> Vizard: So down the road, what I might ultimately see is the virtualization layer, itself, is going to be in the operating system. Its going to be in the chip level. And then what Im buying above that may be the ability to virtualize an application or the management layer above that, but the actual machine may just embed itself into the infrastructure.

Wagner: Yeah. If I understand your point, I think youll see virtualization almost at every layer, and customers will have the flexibility to implement it for the most productive use. Now we consistently say here at Novell, we focus on user productivity, and customer productivity and the business productivity, and all of these technologies that we have available should be targeted at that. Many of the technologies that you see, and the targeting by many of the vendors that bring them to market, is about machine productivity. Wed like to turn that around and reduce this complexity that you see in the market and take all of that flexibility and focus it at user productivity.

Vizard: Do you think, ultimately, that means that people will buy fewer machines? On the server side, in theory, I can run multiple operating instances. So why am I going to need to buy the same number of servers?

Wagner: I think they said the same thing about storage many years ago. Storage, as you know, is one of the fastest growing areas of the IT infrastructure. I think as you align to the business needs and provide business users what they want, they have almost an insatiable consumption of what IT can bring to bear. And so in the short run, or on any particular instance, you may be able to consolidate servers. Thats probably a short-term effect. And in the long run, the amount of value that IT can bring to the business community will circumvent that short run consolidation and youll bring back the demand. I think we all see that. If, in fact, that effect was anticipated to be the long-term effect, weve consolidated and used a lot less of IT resources; there may be less interest in virtualization from the large ecosystems. What we see in the trends is that the large ecosystems, as well as how Novell manages them, will take full advantage of what virtualization has to offer to provide flexibility. And that flexibility drives new possibilities, which then drives demand.

Vizard: Do you think virtualization plays any kind of new or interesting role in the client side of the equation, rather than all the conversations today is on the server side? Do you think people will start virtualizing their client machines to create different personalities for themselves and the clients? I may have my end user personality for my personal life and my business life on the same machine, but running on different virtual machines.

Wagner: Yeah, absolutely. We see that today happening with many of our customers. With the introduction of the SUSE Linux desktop, you have the capability to run virtual machines within the Xen environment on your desktop. And we see that the term used much in the industry is VDI or virtual desktop initiatives, and different types of virtualization, be they a thin client implementation utilizing browser technology on the client served by a blade farm with the desktop, thicker pieces of the desktop running virtual machine on the servers themselves as one implementation. We see flexible computing architectures where you have a thicker client on the desktops and stream applications out in a virtualized way to the desktops to provide different economics to the desktop for usage charging. Instead of "I have to buy the application," I can use it time of use of that application. There are many forms and there is a lot of investigation, a lot of piloting going on of different techniques. And I think youll see a pretty strong wave continue over the next year to three years.

Vizard: What is your take on the implication that virtualization has on rolling out applications, or for that matter, a subset of that whole conversation would be disaster recovery and business continuity. But has virtualization kind of changed the way people need to think about how they provision applications?

Wagner: Well, I think you could say in one breath, virtualization changes everything, and in another breath say virtualization almost changes nothing, but it depends on your implementation, Mike. What we see is virtualization opens up so much flexibility that it puts a lot of pressure on management and management policies, and the practices of both desktop management and data center. So Novells bringing forth, as you know, enterprise management technologies, as we say, from desktop to data center to help our customers simplify and manage, not just a virtual environment, but the physical environment as well, and the marriage of those two so that they can have a minimized risk environment with the assurance of business productivity without the inherency and the concerns that come with virtualization; losing track of things, not knowing where things are running. So virtualization has great promise. Theres no question about it. It actually is an enabler of disaster recovery capabilities, but you have to bring together an enterprise management approach that minimizes the risk and provides the regulatory and compliance components required to fulfill on that promise.

Vizard: In that same context, what does virtualization do for enhancing security across the board? Does that create another layer between the operating systems and the applications that afford some greater level of protection? What are we going to see there?

Wagner: I hate to bring up the complexity of it, but in the layers of a stack, the various types of virtualization can, in some cases, provide more security issues and, in many cases, reduce security issues. So if youre implementing operating system-based virtualization and isolating the operating environments from themselves with some of the management capabilities that we bring to offer, as well as others, you actually enhance security. Because by creating virtualized environments, theyre containerized and isolated from each other. Other virtualization technologies, typically those that are provided within one operating environment - lets call them zones or virtualized containers - sometimes introduce new security risks because they dont have that type of isolations that operating system virtualization does. So Mike, it really depends on the implementation approach that youre using and how youre managing that implementation.


Next Page: Virtual Machines as Resources.


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