Some Ideas are Born Great—and Get Greater

Some technologies don't get older, they get better.

Some technologies dont get older, they get better. This weeks issue has a couple of prime examples: virtual machine technology and Ethernet. Both originated in the 1970s, and both have been through several generations. Both are fundamentally great ideas, the need for which has not abated in the least over the years.

Some 30 years after the creation of IBMs VM operating system, Microsoft determined it needs the virtual machine technology of Connectix to migrate Windows NT 4.0 users to Windows Server 2003. As Peter Galli reports, the future of virtual machine technology in the Microsoft product line is the subject of intense speculation. How will Microsoft charge for operating systems hosted on this technology? Will Microsoft not mind the ability of the virtual machines to host non-Microsoft operating systems? It will be interesting to see how Microsoft answers these questions.

The reason for a rebirth of interest in virtual machine technology is mainly the drive to consolidate servers, a process thats perfect for these belt-tightening times. Check out Anne Chens story to find out how Golden Gate University CTO Anthony Hill did it. Simplification is not always simple. Then read Francis Chus review of VMwares GSX Server 2.5, a very good choice for server consolidation.

The urge to conserve cash has made a huge dent in the number of big IT projects being undertaken. It has not eliminated them, however—particularly those that show significant ROI. Renee Boucher Ferguson reports that business process management, which is costing the District of Columbia $71.5 million over five years, is projected to save the district $150 million over that time. One doesnt think of the district as the most efficient of places, so its nice to know that IT is doing its part to make it more so.

As for Ethernet, the first time I saw it, in 1983, it looked like a piece of orange garden hose. I could use up the space in this column describing the different permutations that sprang from the venerable 802.3 standard. (Pop quiz: what was isochronous Ethernet?) Ethernet is now being asked to carry electrical power, much in the way that telephone lines carry enough power to activate a handset. The purpose is again telephony—for voice over IP but also for things like security camera transmissions. And its a sure bet that Ethernet will be the primary interconnect for grid computing.

Is there any reason why Ethernet will not go on forever? Tell me at [email protected]