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Will the Hypervisor Replace Operating Systems

Redmondmag.com columnist Brien Posey always has an interesting take, especially with his recent article that focused on the future of the hypervisor, particularly market leading VMware.

Big changes have been happening in data centers. More and more servers are split into a bunch of VMs, and server operating systems are becoming more dedicated with smaller footprints. We've long had Linux appliances. Now Windows Server is increasing focus on Server Roles.

This is the perfect context for hypervisors (which assume the duties of an OS). You see, these slices of server computing are narrowly focused, so they need less OS support.

VMware is the company Posey sees moving in this direction (wouldn't it love to intrude on Microsoft's OS turf?). VMware is already looking to handle storage and to virtual networks -- key pieces that OS's generally touch. And Posey got a sneak peak at some cool stuff in VMware labs that seem to back up his prognostications, especially in the area of configuration.

When you look at things like Linux appliances, a lightweight OS doesn't actually have to do all that much. It's easy to assume that VMware may not be that far away.

One of the questions Posey didn't address is could VMware support Windows servers apps? Would this let IT run these apps without paying the Microsoft server license tax, and would Redmond let it?

What is your expert analysis? Send it forth to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/12/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Thu, Sep 13, 2012 Tom Pittsburgh

I don't really see it as prognistication as much as stating a rather obvious direction the industry has been following for at least 7 years now...Windows 8 and Windows 2012 both already include the Hyper-V role, now all you have to do is decouple the OS services from the user interface services, and allow the hypervisor/OS provide standardized connectors that the UI interfaces with. By doing this, Microsoft can keep the "OS" from the user point of view, still control the underlying hardware (the hypervisor would come with the now decoupled UI anyway as Hyper-V), and make it trivial to impliment the much desired VDI concept they are moving toward. Moreover, since Hyper-V would be the same regardless, on Servers they could load the server UI (server core) and charge based on that independent of the underlying hardware and capabilites. It even opens a greater role for whatever management tool name of the day they have at that point consolidating the tool to manage ANY machine using the standard. The same argument can go for ANY of the current vendors - if they can work it out. I think VMware certainly can, at least on the server side.

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 Dan Iowa

This seems like a silly question. But I'll bite... The answer is no. Instead Operating Systems will replace the Hypervisor, and it will be just another operating system role. :-) (Two ways of looking at the exact same thing event.) As soon as the Hypervisor starts doing other things, it ceases to be a Hyporvisor. It would be a lot like, well, Windows with the Hyper-V role installed.

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