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Trends In Computing

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.

Posted by customlinux at 9:40 AM EST | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ever since I bought my first CDROM Bookshelf from SoftPro Books, I’ve been taken by the fact that we can reduce so much knowledge down to such a compact form. Imagine – five to six books fitted onto one CD, long touted as “the new papyrus”, which is great for me since I’m all for stopping the killing of trees.

Now fast-forward to more recent times. I have, on occasion, had the pleasure of  carrying my teen-aged daughter’s back pack full of text books. I continue to be surprised , even shocked at how  much weight she has to carry around down those long halls of academia on a daily basis. Those back packs weigh as much as a small child! By the way, my wife was telling me that female students are starting to have medical problems as a result, because she is having concerns about our own daughter, as related by her pediatrician.

Anyway, thinking about these two events sparked my thoughts on how modern technology could be applied to the written word. I’m a big believer in technology, not for technology’s sake but for how it can help humanity.

So here I am, thinking about how ridiculous  it is to lug around a ton of books when all of that wordage can be reduced to one or two CDs, which weigh literally nothing. And if we talk about standardizing on DVDs, we’re talking about way more storage space than we need for a year’s worth of classes.

The point is, we have the technology right now – ereaders, laptops and now netbooks. On the software side, we can standardize on file formats such as Portable Document Format (PDF), Open Document Format (ODF) or Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) in adhering to open standards. With a little bit of tweaking, we could define some standards for equipment suitable for the student, from elementary school to college. You would now be able to reduce that back pack to mostly empty space, even trade it in for a large handbag for the female students.

So far, I’ve only mentioned one side of the publishing coin – the end product, not the subject of this article. To support my vision to transform how we deliver written knowledge to our school-aged children, one overall technology comes to mind – publication on demand.

By necessity, publication on demand would have to be a custom operation granular to the level of school districts if not down to the level of individual students. With the advent of software-as-a-service and cloud computing, I believe publication on demand would be a good fit and now would be good time to consider implementing it.

What I envision is that with the hardware in place and available for every student, custom media in the form of CD/DVDs could be delivered at the beginning of the school year or academic period as needed, according to individual curricula. Educational publishers could support this perhaps by forming a consortium to create an electronic repository ,which would in turn offer publishing self service to the nation’s school districts. From here, it’s up in the air as to who actually burns the CD/DVDs and distributes them.

With such a high tech setup, the sky’s the limit as to the possibilities. First and foremost, the cost of  publishing should go way down, especially if part of the publishing operation is offloaded to the school districts themselves. Another obvious reduction in cost is the elimination of paper and ink along with related traditional publishing operations as we go all electronic. Even more importantly, this goes a long way to leveling the playing field  for the poorer school districts that historically cannot afford up-to-date textbooks. Because CD/DVDs are such an inexpensive media to use, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. And with a corresponding change in text production methods, this could render book buy-back programs unnecessary for many schools and colleges.

Posted by customlinux at 12:39 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 4 August 2009 1:21 PM EDT

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