Server V12n at Citrix iForum

Server V12n at Citrix iForum

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I admit being a bit lazy with short-hand. But I can only spell out virtualization so many times before I get tired of two-finger keystroking all those letters. It has more to do with a poorly-attended typing class during the summer between junior and senior year of high school than my interest in the subject. But I'm not the first to use V12n.

I'm in Vegas (baby) this week to attend Citrix iForum. Citrix is using its conference this year to re-energize its channel around its broadening virtualization portfolio. Alessandro covered Citrix's news here. They're bringing Xensource into the fold, to include re-naming products with the Xen brand. I'd expected to see flaming comments about this proprietary/open source branding mixture from the open source community, but nary a word. Give it time. I'll be strolling the show floor today, maybe I'll hear some angst then.

On a related note, there's some interesting posts around V12n killing the modern-day OS. Dan Kusnetsky says it's one of the top 10 V12n myths. Here's an excerpt from myth #1:

Some of the statements made at VMware’s VMworld event convinced some people that operating systems are becoming an endangered species and that shortly they'll be replaced by virtual machine software. This is a very unlikely scenario and let me address the reasons why this is so:

  • Hypervisors are small operating systems or components of general purpose operating systems, such as Windows, Unix or Linux. Replacing one with another doesn't mean that operating systems have gone away only that functions have been “re-hosted” to run on the hypervisor directly.
  • Most applications have been written to use the facilities of an operating system and related system software. Until hypervisors offer all of those features, applications would have to be rewritten to internalize those functions. Who's going to save money doing that?
  • Hardware suppliers offer support based upon a well-tested list of hardware and software options. It is not at all clear that these suppliers would support an application stack running directly on a hypervisor. This is something the organization would have to discover on a case-by-case basis.

 Whereas Scott Lowe chews on the topic a bit longer to conclude:

See, Microsoft has to make the claim that ESX Server is an operating system, so that it can level the playing field—at least with regards to perception—between VMware’s virtualization solution and Microsoft’s own virtualization solution.  After all, if you’re VMware and you’re saying that your solution runs “on the bare metal, beneath the OS,” then this sounds somehow better than Microsoft’s hypervisor, which is “bundled with the OS.”  See the difference?  If Microsoft allows the perception that ESX Server is not an OS to grow, then it undermines their solution.

Likewise, VMware has to distinguish their solution from the “traditional OS” because if they don’t, then they begin to lose the perception advantage against other virtualization solutions such as Xen or Windows Server Virtualization.  You can see this trend even now on the VMware web site, where you’ll find statements like this about ESX Server 3i:

ESX Server 3i is the only hypervisor that does not incorporate or rely on a general-purpose operating system (OS), eliminating many common reliability issues and security vulnerabilities.

Is ESX Server an “operating system”?  What about ESX Server 3i?  As with so many other things in life, I guess that truly depends upon your perspective.

I'll offer another thought. Machine virtualization is today's version of the TCP/IP stack of the late 1980s. Remember when vendors sold TCP/IP? Today most commercial OSes include and install the stack by default. Today, machine virtualization is being offered in all sorts of open source and commercial OSes ... and soon Windows Server.

Patrick

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