When virtualization disappears

Filed under: Random Thoughts — barmijo — February 29, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

I made a quick trip to the golf shop today to pick up some balls. (TopFlite XL for you golfers). Just like the Visa commercials I zipped in, picked up the balls, swiped the card, and was out the door in less than a minute. That’s the power of virtualization!

What? Right now many of you are trying to figure out what part of that story was about virtualization. Perhaps the cash register was running VMware or Xen? Nope. I’m talking of course about my credit card – virtual money.

In fact, money IMHO is the oldest form of virtualization. Consider what money really is. The golf shop accepted the swipe of my card in exchange for a hard asset, the golf balls. They did this because they have a high expectation of getting money from the credit card company as a result of that swipe. The money they’ll receive is virtual as well. It’s nothing more than some digits on a computer screen or bank statement, but they have a reasonable expectation that they can exchange that virtual money for goods and services just as I did. That’s a social contract we’ve all accepted even though we don’t typically think about it. The virtualization of the exchange has disappeared.

There are many more examples of virtualization in our every day lives, phone numbers, steering wheels in our cars, etc.

The relevance of these examples to our industry can’t be overstated. Each of these forms of virtualization took many years to become accepted, but once they did they literally disappeared from conscious use. Likewise, server virtualization will become a fixture over the next few years and it two will disappear from view. If you find that a stretch, as I’m sure virtualization vendors will, consider how often you think about extended memory managers. You’re probably using one even while reading this post, but you’re not even aware of it.

As we move forward, servers AND virtual servers will disappear as system administrators find it more productive and simpler to work with new abstractions. At 3tera we see this already. During speeches and sales presentations I often say “servers need to be treated like light bulbs in the ceiling – no one in an office worries about a specific bulb, but rather about light.” While folks may find this incredulous, this is in fact something we designed our system to do and usually within a few days of using AppLogic the concept takes over users.

Instead of thinking about servers, even virtual servers, they’re thinking about they’re application, it’s infrastructure and performance. Servers, like light bulbs, become just a resource.

So, as we in the industry try to help our users move forward, and as we begin to contemplate standards for this new space, we too need to look beyond current implementations – to a time when servers and server virtualization disappear.

Dan Farber Interviews LinkedIn’s Lloyd Taylor

Filed under: Startups — barmijo — @ 11:56 am

I just ran accross a podcast of Dan Farber interviewing Lloyd Taylor of LinkedIn from December that I highly recommend. It’s an excellent listen for anyone who wants to understand how a VP of Technology Operation should be spending his day – focused on adding value to his customers. Lloyd even states up front that he’s able to do this because his infrastructure is sound. The day to day stuff works.

For the record, they are not a 3tera customer. LinkedIn did it the old fashioned way, but that only adds to my admiration.

AppLogic turns 2

Filed under: AppLogic — barmijo — February 21, 2008 @ 11:50 pm

How time flies when you’re slaving away in a startup ;-)

Although it seems like only yesterday, it’s now been two full years since the first users logged in on AppLogic grids during our private beta. It seems hard to believe, but at the time we launched no one had uttered the word grid in relation to hosting, utility computing was considered dead, clouds meant rain, and Amazon was a book retailer.

Along the way AppLogic has picked up many new capabilities as well; metering, built-in monitoring, 64 bit support, dynamic appliances, and hosting partners on three continents. Plus, the largest individual grid grew to more than 450 cpu cores, 1TB of RAM, and 50TB of storage.

It’s been a great two years and I’m happy to report that thanks to the creativity of our users there’s much, much more to come this year.

Building the run book into your applications

Filed under: AppLogic — barmijo — February 7, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

One of the most unique aspects of AppLogic is its ability to package full distributed systems into executable entities. When we designed AppLogic, the purpose of packaging the application was to ensure the complete separation of hardware and software operational responsibilities. This was critical to enabling true utility computing. We succeeded in the effort.

Users, however, found another use for the packages – documenting the applications themselves. AppLogic’s graphical depiction of application structure makes it easy to see at a glance what components exist, what the communication linkages are, what volumes exist and which contain user data. This was a use case we hadn’t foreseen.

In the 2.3 release of AppLogic, due to go into beta around the end of March, we’ll be adding enhanced annotation capabilities to AppLogic to provide for creating more complete application documentation. You’ll be able to add text and graphical annotation elements to application diagrams plus be able to create text notes for appliances. Combined with the ability to operate directly upon the application and to embed operational policies into applications with dynamic appliances, adding annotation essentially turns the application into its own run book.

As a teaser, below is a screen capture from the QA grid being used to test the 2.3 release, in which you can see a bit of the annotation in the infrastructure editor.

(click on image to enlarge)

John Willis demystifies cloud computing

Filed under: Cloud Computing — barmijo — February 6, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

John Willis has a great posting today titled Demystifying Clouds in which he cuts through the hype to offer a definition of cloud computing and catagorizes many of the cloud computing offerings on the market. He’s done a great job thinking through the differences between services which makes for a great read.

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