Thoughts on Systems

Emil Sit

Feb 26, 2009 - 2 minute read - Research mendel rosenblum virtualization vmware

Mendel Rosenblum on Virtualization in Modern Computing Environments

Today, VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum gave a Deuterzos Lecture at MIT titled The Impact of Virtualization on Modern Computing Environments. His talk outlined the general function of virtualization as an interposing layer between the hardware and the operating system, and the evolution of functionality in this layer over the past decade—in short, the talk was largely a super high-level summary of VMware’s greatest hits, from server integration to VMotion to high-availability via record replay to virtual appliances. Overall, I was not particularly impressed, though I thought it was well delivered and probably educational for a non-VMware-employee audience.

The most interesting observation Mendel made was in regarding the space between packaged software and software-as-a-service. In the former, the user is responsible for everything outside of software development: from hosting, to configuration, to maintenance. In the latter, everything other than the actual use is handled by the developers. The in-between space of deployment is enabled by virtualization: some of the maintenance/configuration can be handled by virtual appliances, and with the advent of vClouds and virtual data centers, you can transparently host things either internally or externally.

Anant Agarwal closed the QA section by asking Mendel to take his years of successful academic and industry work as a single sentence of advice. To paraphrase, Mendel said to jump on opportunities that present themselves, for even if you land badly, most people find that the experience was worthwhile.