September 22nd, 2006

Gartner wants Virtual OS After Vista

In this article, Information Week magazine tells us that Gartner wants the next (after Vista) version of Windows to be componentized using virtualization. They’re talking about coarse-grained componentization targeted to simplify deployment of OS components and applications.

In my opinion, hypervisors will (as Virtual Machines do now) provide a solution for compatibility problems, but software management will be solved by combination of OS virtualization (specifically, Virtuozzo templates) and perhaps  application virtualization (e.g. Softricity recently purchased by Microsoft). Once virtualization technologies mature, there will emerge a “hybrid” approach that will be able to solve a wider spectrum of problems more efficiently than any individual technology alone.

Bottom line, one way or another, all virtualization technologies will find their place and all of them will play a significant role in changing the way operating systems and applications are deployed and managed. However, it seems that no one should think there is even a slightest chance of getting virtually componentized Windows before 2010, and, realistically, more like 2012.

Server Virtualization seminar – Tuesday, September 26 in New York City

The publishers of SearchServerVirtualization are sponsoring a seminar on server virtualization. This seminar is free for attendees and you’ll hear directly from experts and users, including Lukas Loesche from Arvato mobile, who will talk about his experience with Virtuozzo and why they chose OS virtualization.

It’s not going to be a huge event, so you’ll get an opportunity to talk face-to-face with some very experienced people. The seminar is intended for IT managers who want to use server virtualization to increase server utilization and manageability while reducing server glut - highly recommended.

Is paravirtualization a viable approach?

Virtual Iron expressed its skepticism about paravirtualization. I already said that I don’t see much benefit in this approach, and let me explain why.

Hardware virtualization. - Hardware virtualization will probably catch up with software virtualization in 2-3 years. Yes, I know, VMware published a report that says that software virtualization is still ahead. But for how long? Intel is investing so much in its virtualization technology, I bet the results will come out sooner than later.

No standard hypervisor. -  This problem is more serious. As of now, we have Xen, Microsoft Hypervisor and VMware – all incompatible with each other. To me, it means that each and every OS has to be modified (para-virtualized) for each hypervisor separately.

Who’s going to do the work? OS vendors? Hypervisor vendors? Are you sure MSFT will make a genuine effort to para-virtualize Windows for VMware unless forced by antitrust authorities?

So far, VMware has been para-virtualizing different OSes on the fly using binary rewriting. When you make such changes static to the OS, you instantly have a multitude OS versions to service. Patches may actually be different for different hypervisors. Do we want “patch sprawl” in addition to “server sprawl” and “OS sprawl”?

What do you think?