Friday, June 27, 2008

Virtualization – Managing Competing OSes

Gartner recently voted Virtualization as a top ten technology trend in the market today. Not only Gartner, but other sites and groups are voting it in as well. Since Virtualization has been around for over 40 years, why is it suddenly making its way to the top ten lists? In short, the rise of competing operating systems as viable challengers to Windows. Linux comes up in discussions more and more these days. Customers don’t want to pay for the Windows license in research and academic institutions. A free copy of Linux will do just fine, thank you.

In general virtualization stands for abstraction of computing resources. It hides the implementation of an application. VMware takes an x86 processor and makes it work on multiple applications with multiple operating systems.

Virtual Logix is a leading supplier of virtualization software that runs real-time, Linux, and other OSes such as Windows in separate cores. Each core runs separately but the software provides communication between the cores.

This type of virtualization let’s one run device drivers in one OS but let’s applications in another OS make use of that device driver. The VLX software “virtualizes” that device driver and synchronizes the use of the device driver across multiple OSes.

LabVIEW pioneered virtualization from the beginning by abstracting away the details of instrumentation programming. Everything was viewed through the lens of software which in the early 1980’s was a radical departure from the norm. Today, the same concept of virtualization is now applied to a new set of technologies such as multicore programming, FPGAs, and real-time systems.

A rich resource on the topic is a blog run by Tom Maila called ExpressionFlow which highlights concepts and ideas regarding object-oriented programming and the impact on visualization.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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