The Future of Virtualization

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-04-03 Print this article Print

What does the future of virtualization look like? For example, it appears that there is a continued commoditization of the hypervisor, with the focus of vendors being on managing and monitoring those environments. Its true the hypervisor is just a small piece of the overall virtual infrastructure. Well see how quickly that actually gets commoditized, because theres a lot of change going on in the platform world, with multicore and 64-bit and VT [Intel Virtual Technology] and "Pacifica" [Advanced Micro Devices Virtualization Technology] and the need for SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] functionality and the need for testing with all the storage hardware and all the server hardware and all that certification stuff. I wouldnt underestimate whats involved in having a fully state-of-the-art, robust, highly performing hypervisor.
But, if people realize thats just a small piece of everything you can do, where you can add in all the system-level functionality that leverages the basic hypervisor layer, and then also add in system management as well, theres a lot of services you can offer [and] theres infrastructure around the appliances. Its just an incredibly rich universe of functionality that can be built that the customers will derive huge benefits from.
Where in the virtualization arena are standards most needed? Theres a few areas where we see everybody coming together around a common way to do things that will have high value. One of them is the virtual machine file format. That is where the virtual machine is nothing more than a file, and what the format of that is will have big implications in where people start and stop and manipulate and manage a virtual machine. VMware is offering our format, VMDK. We would actually use another format if people wanted to use another format. We just feel strongly that whatever it is needs to be completely open and license-free. Microsoft is offering a format, but it has a license associated with it, so we cant adopt something that forces a license. Theres another interface, which is the virtual machine interface, that the operating system and the virtual machine use to talk to each other—known as the paravirtualization interface. Weve offered a starting point there called VMI—virtual machine interface. Thats an important one because it will allow the operating systems to run well on any virtualization [platform]. Theres the systems management interface. Were a member of DMTF [Distributed Management Task Force]. There we feel you want a set of interfaces that is as rich as anything the customers are doing today with virtual machines, so because weve been in the business for eight years, we have a pretty strongly developed set of interfaces that were offering to the community. If we can all agree on how we manage virtual machines and what those APIs and interfaces are, that will give customers the most freedom of choice, and grow the industry the fastest. The last area that were working in is how you benchmark virtual machines. Were working with the community on that as well. … Everybody hopes we can all develop some benchmarks that are not expensive to run. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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