As I watched the launch of VMware vSphere 4 on Tuesday I was torn.  Part of the event was more corporate group hug than product launch, and in many ways vSphere is a logical extension of the company’s existing products. But a little voice in my head told me, “This is something big.”

Some technological leaps seem clear, especially when viewed historically. For example, we speak of moving from the mainframe to the PC – from centralized to distributed processing – as if it happened quickly.  But in fact it took years and there were several steps and stumbles before PCs replaced “dumb terminals” in numbers.

For the past ten years VMware has been developing leading-edge virtualization technology.  In the early days it was primarily used by developers and geeks.  Then more powerful servers appeared on the market, RAM prices plummeted, and virtualization moved into the datacenter. The business case for server consolidation can be simple: Less hardware, fewer racks, and power savings. 

But virtualization is quickly moving beyond simple server consolidation. VMWare provides the ability to move a running computer between physical boxes without any downtime.  A new feature allows a running “computer” to execute simultaneously in lockstep on two different physical machines — if one fails the other simply takes over.  Security products will defend each virtual machine against attacks.  And this will all work with existing operating systems and applications.

This year VMWare is bringing true cloud computing to the enterprise, and with it comes the ability to implement highly available systems and solid disaster recovery. We’re about to witness the next major jump in computing technology.  Hold on tight, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

One Response to The Future of Computing

  1. kingthorin
    Apr 22, 2009

    Hmmm will it really be that big a deal?

    I’m leaning towards “not really”.

    IT is always switching back and forth, centralize/de-centralize. Many technologies already posses such failover protections so it’s natural that VMWare adopt the same. I can also easily see such functionality being added directly to the base OSes (not that it’s trivial but just that some are partially there already and developers will see it as a good move).

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