Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Seamless virtualization - the next frontier
Virtualization is a mature technology that has finally come alive in the pc/server space. As a key component in the still-evolving cloud computing world, virtualization is making the statement that it is here to stay. And, no doubt, virtualization will leap forward, perhaps into directions unknown in the near future.
I can forsee this technology naturally progressing in one particular direction – seamless virtualization. I say seamless, where perhaps the guest OS is run as a background process, very much like a daemon. And in the same way the applications running on top of it virtually cannot be distinguished from native-running applications. In other words, just as in present times under virtualization, as the guest OS is run like a regular app, so will the apps running on top of it.
At face value, this seems like a mere convenience taken a step further, but the implications may be much greater for software development and integration. With seamless virtualization, applications running on the guest OS would possibly be treated like a new class of MIME types. Native running utilities would operate on them in a similar fashion as native applications. They would be “assimilated” into the host OS desktop/infrastructure and managed as if they were deployed for the same platform. Switching between OSs, in other words, would be eliminated and no distinction (at least at the surface level) would be made between native and guest applications. Native-running web browsers, file managers, menu launchers, desktop task bars/panels, etc. would treat all the same.
Once the guest OS is installed and configured, its applications become part of the host OS desktop, availing themselves of its services and resources. A seamless integration of sorts takes place where there is no distinction between applications built for the host or the guest OS.
The task of selecting “best-of-breed” applications may be eased more without fear of being locked in to one operating system or another. As is the case with middleware, operating systems become less relevant from the software development point of view. They become a less stringent matter of choice, making it easier to stick with your favorite OS.
What this may all lead to is a future of hybrid computer systems where a heterogeneous computing environment becomes a more seamlessly integrated operation than what is possible at present. It would be a less burdensome and complicated matchup of software components in order to access the applications and create the computing infrastructure you require for your particular operations.