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.