Tuesday’s Keynote: Changing Role of the OS

[Updated with more details]

VMware co-founder and President Diane Greene headlined the opening keynote this morning at VMworld 2006. There were also panels on virtual appliances and industry perspectives.

Some highlights:

  • PG&E announced a credit program that pays $150-300 for every server you remove from your data center. In addition, we estimate that you save $300-600 in annual electricity costs and $300-600 in annual cooling costs for each server you eliminate. The catch: the cap is $4 million per customer. (Some catch!)
  • With the virtualization layer inserted between the operating system
    and the hardware, the OS becomes an extension of the application stack. Proof?
    Oracle announced support for Red Hat Linux; Microsoft shipped demo virtual
    appliances with SQL Server & Exchange; and BEA is building the operating
    system into their application stack. If we push interfaces, protocols, and
    formats for virtualization into standards bodies, then customers can choose
    their software based on functionality, performance, reliability, and price. When
    customers buy software, it needs to be licensed not to hardware, but to the
    (virtual) infrastructure it uses.
  • Resource Mapping: When you deploy a new service, you used to have
    to carefully configure it for the hardware. Now you can set priorities to
    allocate / de-allocate resources as needed. The admin determines priorities and
    the system lets you manage and rebalance resources. This is starting to make its
    way into small and large businesses. Virtual appliances on VI make it easy to
    add HA to even small-scale environments.
  • Virtual infrastructure is robust enough to support viewing of
    streaming video on virtualized desktops, as development director Ben Verghese
    demonstrated with a clip from the movie Office Space.
  • VMware is working on power management technologies with our DRS (distributed resource scheduling) system that will allow you to power down machines when they are not being utilized.
  • Amazing proliferation
    • 1.9 million downloads of VMware Player in 11 months
    • 1.6 million downloads of VMware Server in 5 months
    • 300 virtual appliances created over the last 3 months
  • Virtual appliances panel
    • "Once you have hundreds of purple and green and blue boxes in your data center, you realize you’re being inefficient."
    • James McDonald, CEO of Homeland Internet likes VAs because
      they’re pre-installed and pre-configured. Download VAs as easy as downloading
      music from iTunes. Automatically re-deploy VAs to another server. Customer had a
      DOS attack — they were able to increase capacity to 300% so that other
      customers on shared service didn’t see performance hit. Then they stopped the
      attack and took capacity back to baseline level.
  • Industry perspectives panel
    • Marc Andreessen: "Every once in a  while, there’s a technology that’s cool when you see it; then you realize 13 more things you can do with it, and it’s really cool, then you figure out another 13 things you can do with it, and it’s even cooler.   The more we use virtualization the more we figure out what we can do with it, and the more we depend on it."
    • Marc Andreessen commented if he were starting over
      building systems from scratch, he would blue-sky with recent innovations: 64-bit
      architecture; dynamic languages like PHP & Ruby; automation; multi-core chip
      architectures, s/w dev’t tools like Eclipse and re-factoring tools; commodity
      hardware; open-source or free software. These are huge innovations in the last 5
      years. Someone starting from scratch could assemble really powerful systems.
      These innovations create a great environment from a programmer perspective where
      you can get a lot done in a short time.
    • David Cheriton: "We can put together a large complex system that’s ‘fairly good’ at low cost, but we can’t afford to put together system that’s really good. 90 or 99% reliability is not good enough. We can’t afford to address last 1%"
      Moderator Lee Gomes: "Why? How could history have been written differently?"
      David Cheriton: "You said I couldn’t bash Microsoft."
    • David Cheriton: I’d like to resurrect the real meaning of the operating system. There was a
      golden moment in this field — probably in the 1940’s
      that we realized that the thing to manage a computer was the computer itself, not people. Computers can do it better if we can only write the right OS — the challenge is still before us.


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