Guest Post: Virtualization; Something Old, Someone New and Some Really Big Cost Savings

Hello, I’m Kevin Knox, VP Worldwide Commercial Business at AMD. Microsoft invited me to do this guest blog post in conjunction with our sponsorship of Microsoft’s “Get Virtual Now” event on Sept. 8.

I always find it interesting to hear people singing the praises of x86 virtualization and talking about how this recently introduced technology is already revolutionizing the industry. Fact of the matter is that virtualization technology was originally introduced for the purpose of time sharing on mainframes in the early 1970’s.  One could probably trace the roots of x86 virtualization to the early 90’s when IT managers finally realized that people’s desks and wiring closets were probably no place for servers and started to relocate them into the datacenter. The next step in the evolution of x86 virtualization was a few years later when IT managers realized they could safely run multiple applications on a single server simultaneously. And if you are reading this blog, you can probably figure out what came next…..running multiple versions of an OS on a single piece of hardware, or what has affectionately become known as virtualization. While certainly an interesting history, there are two major happenings on the near horizon that I believe will permanently change the face of virtualization.

First is the notion of virtualization becoming “intelligent.” Think about the possibilities when an enterprise infrastructure becomes smart enough to essentially manage itself based on a predefined set of rules, policies and current application requirements. Application A runs for 1 hour and when it is finished, it shuts down, creates a new virtual session with ½ its resources to start a nightly backup and it reallocates the other ½ of the resources to another session getting ready to kick off a major batch run. While just an example, hopefully it shows the possibilities of what some are calling Dynamic Provisioning. In the end what this will enable is the elimination of human capital, which for most IT shops is still the largest budget item they have. No longer will masses of IT people be needed for starting, stopping, configuring and managing virtual sessions.  On top of that, by optimizing the software environment in such a way, less, better utilized hardware will result.

The second and probably more important happening is Microsoft’s entry into the virtualization space. While Microsoft has invested in a variety of virtualization areas over the years including partnerships, acquisition and new technologies, they now seem to have a clear strategy and roadmap for delivering broad virtualization technologies across the enterprise. This is not to suggest they will be better or worse than anyone else, but rather having Microsoft in the game will help drive innovation, push the competition and allow for a more competitive marketplace, which ends up being a good thing for end users. Microsoft’s years of experience in operating systems and infrastructure software will also help enable new features and function and enable emerging technologies such as Dynamic Provisioning.  One thing I can assure you from my years at AMD is that competition drives innovation and value for the end-users, for the ecosystem and the industry as a whole.

To illustrate this, consider the following advances that AMD has driven into the x86 processor over the past 5 years together with greater choices in virtualization software that are starting to open the doors for IT departments, enabling them to run a larger range of workloads on virtualized servers. 64-bit and multi-core processor technologies now provide the robust platform needed for memory-intensive virtualization. More advanced power management capabilities of the processor are helping to reduce power and cooling costs. AMD-V technology, hardware-enabled virtualization inherent in our processors, is enabling software like Hyper-V to handle the most demanding applications.

So what does the future hold? Well I can’t tell you that, but I can assure you we are in the midst of the most interesting time in the history of x86 virtualization from both a competitive as well an innovation perspective.  As Bob Dylan once sang “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

Kevin Knox is Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Business at AMD.  His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.