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Background reading for today’s opening keynote at VMworld. There will be no quiz following the session, but there is a tectonic shift going on in IT — it pays to pay attention.

Overview page: Freedom

There is a significant change underway in systems infrastructure. The
traditional infrastructure model of a single monolithic system running
a single, monolithic OS and a single application at wastefully low
levels of utilization is obsolete.

Karthik Rau: Changing Role of the OS

As the market for virtualization rapidly evolves over these next few
years, customers need to ask themselves the following key question: Is
it really simpler to have virtualization integrated into the OS and
follow the same pattern of lock-in that has dominated the past 20 years
of computing, or do I want a world where I have choice and can focus on
running a best-of-breed technology stack for each of my applications?

Raghu Raghuram: Hypervisors, Operating Systems and Virtual Infrastructure

With virtualization, there is now an opportunity to implement security,
availability and reliability outside the OS, through the virtualization
layer. Implementing these services outside the OS delivers significant
benefits.  First, the implementation is global in scope – independent
of any OS or any application. Second, implementing these capabilities
once at the virtualization layer benefits every guest OS and
application on every VM. You no longer have to implement and manage
agents or software for availability or security or system protection
per application. Third, since the implementation is not dependent on
the OS, it is inherently less susceptible to attacks on the OS and
therefore leads to a simpler, more robust infrastructure.

Dan Chu: Virtualization and Licensing: What Customers Need

Vendors can evolve their licensing to allow customers to take advantage
of new technology, or conversely vendors can hold back and seek to
inhibit and restrict how customers can use new technology because they
feel threatened by it.  Customers have adopted virtualization broadly
and made it mainstream, and have been able to drive some significant
changes and improvements in licensing and openness.  However, there are
also a growing number of areas where specific vendors (Microsoft in
particular) are threatening to use licensing to restrict and undercut
the benefits that customers and the industry are gaining from
virtualization.

Steve Herrod: Virtualization: Open Standards, Interfaces, and Formats

For virtual appliances to achieve their full potential, openness in
virtual machine-related interfaces is critical. The real promise is
"any software on any virtualization layer". We believe customers should
be able to choose and/or purchase a virtual machine consisting of any application running on any operating system and then run it on their virtualization layer of choice.