How Virtualization Has Changed

By Eric Lundquist  |  Posted 2008-06-02 Print this article Print


How has virtualization changed during the last year and where do you see the technology going in the next 12 to 18 months, given that you said more and more companies feel this is the way we should be computing?

Virtualization has shifted from being something that [was] first used for server consolidation to something transforming the data center. At this point, it's really transforming the software industry.

In fact, it's transforming the whole ecosystem because you have the hardware vendors optimizing for virtualization, the processor adding hardware assists for virtualization, the servers and the storage putting in features to optimize around virtualization and support it, and then you have system management incorporating management and monitoring virtualization.

Then, [you have] this dramatic phase happening where it's transforming how people develop, build and deliver software, so you have major changes for the ISVs.

So, we went from [saying to customers,] "OK, here's a way to consolidate your data centers and do better test and development," to "Here's an architecture for your data center, and it's a way to pool all of your resources and optimize everything and have a better service level," to, now, "[Here is a way] for you to automate your data center, and it's also a way to automate the building and delivery of software, and that is just continuing." We were coming out with products to support this, and, with the IPO, there is a realization that there is this large industry. It gave us a framework to explain why it's a large industry and where it's going to go. So, it's only natural that all of the big companies are coming into it. In fact, we are surprised that they didn't come in sooner.

Did you expect these other companies to come in sooner? Are they late to the game at this point?

I think they are. We actually expected them years ago.

You talked before about virtualization transforming the way software is developed. Can you take us through what that means and what VMware is doing in that area?

Once you have a virtual platform-say, ESX Server-on all the hardware, you have enabled yourself to have a next-generation system infrastructure for doing reliability, high availability, disaster recovery [and] backup. You have the ability to do that.

Once you start putting all of your software packaged in virtual machines ... you can optimize for power management, you can optimize for load balancing, you can optimize for downtime.

To read about VMware's security initiatives, click here.  

The next thing you can do is add automation. We are rolling out four automation products right now because, when software is sitting in a virtual machine, [it] can run anywhere you have the VMware Infrastructure.

So, we have a way to automatically configure, test and deploy disaster recovery. We have an automatic way to do testing and development and manage the images and self-service provision. We have an automatic way of staging and going into products and the provisioning there, so you get into this ability to do the really superior management and automation of your software.

VMware keeps innovating, and we keep broadening our line. ... You can now start thinking about where you run-on premises, off premises-and have that ability to move around and maybe use peak capacity off premises instead of what you have on premises. In effect, this notion of a cloud-where pieces of the cloud are on premises and pieces of the cloud are off premises-the virtualized system infrastructure can support that transparently.

Then there is a whole other area that starts getting into application infrastructure. One proof point of that would be in security. We recently launched VMsafe with the ISVs, and this is a proof point of how this is transforming the software industry. This is changing how you build apps. We now have about 30 software companies that have joined our VMsafe initiative, which is essentially creating APIs that let you secure what's in a virtual machine because you know everything that is going in and out of it. So you can catch a virus before it gets in, and maybe prevent having to patch; you can say what's allowed going in and out of a virtual machine.

Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.

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