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What's next with hypervisors?

John Dix | Dec. 14, 2011
The world of hypervisors is complicated by the fact that there are proprietary and open source tools.

JOLLANS: I think an interesting question is, does the hypervisor commoditize? Looking out five, 10 years, there's all sorts of possible ways it could commoditize. You could, for example, see the hypervisor included with every operating system. There's affinity between KVM and Linux and affinity between Hyper-V and Windows, which could tend to drive that. You could see the hypervisor go down into the hardware so that every server comes with a hypervisor embedded in it, in which case it's commoditized in that aspect. Or you could see it continue to be an independent hypervisor, or a mixture of all three. These dynamics are going to shape the market and I'm not sure we see how that plays out. 

GILLEN: Adam, you're absolutely right. Hypervisors will continue to commoditize and going down to the hardware is absolutely what they have to do. That's where the hypervisor technology belongs long term.

Explore that a little bit: How will that change the whole environment?

GILLEN: I would argue that it doesn't really change the game at all because it's not the hypervisor that defines the winners or losers, but rather the software that goes around the hypervisor that gives you the management capabilities. It' gives you the services and self provisioning capabilities. It gives you the capabilities of building out a single image cloud that allows your next generation applications to run. Those are the kinds of things that really are going to shape the future.

So, your cloud provider might have one kind of hypervisor, some servers you buy may come with another, and some special application somewhere else may have a third ...

GILLEN: Yeah, I think that's a fair way to look at it. What does a hypervisor do? It provides a virtual image of what looks like a piece of hardware to the operating system that runs on it, so do I really care if it's Brand A, Brand B or Brand C hypervisor. As long as it looks like an x86 server to me my operating system is happy. Where the differentiation comes in is the things that manage and do things with those guest operating systems and the hypervisor itself.

How hard is it to patch together mixed hypervisor environments today?

GILLEN: There are tools that can span multiple hypervisors, and I think it is a good thing to have a single pane of glass for all of your hypervisors. But the reality is most customers tend to use the set of management tools provided by the vendor that supplies the hypervisor, so you tend to have vertical silos of hypervisors and management tools, and if a customer has more than one hypervisor, they tend to have more than one management tool.


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