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Virtualization and the Art of Flash

מהם השינויים הצפויים במחשוב ובמחשוב הנייד בעיקר, כתוצאה מההפתחות המואצת של טכנולוגיית ה Virtualization וה Flash. (המאמר בשפה האנגלית)

By 2007/08, we expect nearly all new PCs to ship enabled with.

irtualization technology. Nearly everyone sees this as the wave of the future, with Intel and MSFT both on the bandwagon, and VMWare, the current premiere vendor of virtualization SW gaining recognition. However, the notion of being able to run two or more instances of Windows on the same machine, or Windows and Linux (or MacOS, as per the previous article) are much too limiting.

I believe the real benefit of virtual machine technology will come when we get beyond the simple model of multiple OSes, and start thinking out of the box about how it will change the way we compute.

One such example immediately comes to mind. A new company called U3, jointly funded by M-Systems and Sandisk, the 2 premiere flash drive manufacturers in the industry, is floating a new idea. Building upon the notion that flash drives are growing in storage capacity exponentially while the prices continue to decline, they believe the next logical step is just that – building logic into the drive itself. The U3 spec provides a way for applications to interface with the flash drive to protect the data, install viewers, or even deploy complete applications. The APIs that U3 proposes are fairly open and allow many unique ways to empower the currently dumb device with smarts, and they are building a growing list of HW manufacturers to deploy the technology.

Technology aside for the moment, what does all this mean? Well, imagine walking around with a 5-10GB flash drive (which will not be unusual in 2-3years), with more than just raw data. Imagine having an API that tells a machine you plug into what to do next. Then imagine it can hold not only your entire document file, but a personal version of Office or Outlook or some other productivity app. Then imagine walking up to a PC, virtually (and this is the key word) any PC, and plugging in the flash drive. Once plugged into the USB port, a new virtual machine instance pops up (almost instantly) that is completely personalized for you and your needs-all from the contents of a little flash drive device in your pocket or bag, or built into a phone or other personal device (say, an iPod or Palm).

 This is a revolutionary notion. I would no longer have to carry a fully capable PC around with me. I could find any machine that allows virtualization (so as not to bother or destroy the owner’s applications and data), and by simply attaching a U3 enabled device, allow a fully customized workspace. This type of technology has been tried before (remember the IBM brick) without success. What’s different this time is not the storage device. It’s the use of virtual machine technology. Once it is prevalent, then launching an instance on any machine should be trivial (OK, so I understand there will be licensing issues, but we’ll get beyond those). As long as I can find an unoccupied machine, (or one with enough horsepower to support more than one user), I can make it my personal  machine. This can work at home, on an airplane, in a remote office, at a hotel, guest offices, etc.

 The real power of virtualization will come about only when we see these new paradigms coming into play. I am sure that U3 and other such schemes will make virtualization a common requirement within the next 3-5 years. It will also have a profound effect on the design, implementation and usage of personal portable computing (no, I’m not suggesting that notebooks will go away, but I’d much rather carry a large capacity flash drive home to my virtual machine from the office than a 6+ pound computer).

 Bottom Line: I believe U3 and other techniques that separate the data/apps from the hardware will be an important and compelling reason for virtualization technology, provided the industry can agree on some standardized ways to make the interface connections. Over the next 3-5 years, we will see a significant shift in how computers are used, but I will still want a way to “take it with me”, and “it” may only be the data and apps.

 כותב המאמר הנו:

 Jack gold

 jack.gold@jgoldassociates.com

 

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