Hardware Virtualization Scenario Set to Play Out Soon

Virtualization, both on the software and hardware side, took center stage at the Linux/Open Source on Wall Street conference.

NEW YORK–Virtualization, both on the software and hardware side, took center stage at the Linux/Open Source on Wall Street conference here April 23.

In a panel discussion titled "Linux on the Leading Edge," moderator Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for the System p at IBM, said virtualization was currently leading the innovation pack, both on the proprietary and open-source fronts.

IBM supports the mixed-source model, where users have both proprietary and open-source technologies, as this facilitates the acceleration of open standards.

"This model will sustain itself for pure economic reasons alongside proprietary and open plays. You are not even competitive if you are not leveraging the open side of this model; you can put a little in and get a lot out. There are a lot of benefits to this model," Handy said.

Handy used the panel to announce the open beta version of System p AVE (Application Virtual Environment), a virtual Linux environment that lets x86 Linux applications run without modification on IBMs Power processor-based System p servers.

"With nearly 2,800 applications already running natively on Linux on System p servers, System p AVE will allow most x86 Linux binaries to run unmodified. Initial testing shows that it should be easy for clients to install and run a wide range of x86 Linux applications on System p and BladeCenter JS20 and JS21 servers that are using a Linux operating system," Handy said.

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"These applications should run, without any change to the application and without having to predefine that application to the Linux on Power operating system with p AVE installed," Handy said.

Bob Wiederhold, chairman, president and CEO of Transitive, said that while server virtualization was getting the most attention, there were other scenarios that would play out over the next few years.

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Hardware virtualization was one of those scenarios and allowed technology compiled for one processor and operating system to run on another processor/operating system without any source code or binary changes, Wiederhold said.

This eliminated the porting requirements for both ISV and internally developed software, allowing an immediate expansion of the software ecosystem while dramatically lowering the barriers to server migration.

"It also extends the benefits of server consolidation and portioning. The applications just work, there is full functionality [and] high performance, and it is completely transparent and highly reliable," Wiederhold said.

There were already 6 million users of this technology, not in the enterprise space but rather on the PC. Benefits of hardware virtualization for the enterprise included the fact that users would now be able to run Sun Microsystems Solaris/SPARC applications on Linux and x86, he said, referring to a European telephone company customer who had moved 150 of his Solaris/SPARC applications across and intended to do the same for the remaining 1,350.

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Robert Woeckener, the System z Linux and Unix systems engineering and administration manager at Nationwide, said the company had been running out of data center space, using too much power and experiencing a staff and skills shortage, which was one of the reasons why it started looking at virtualization.

Next Page: Lessons learned from move to virtualization.