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The next generation of virtualisation


Netshroud
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I was thinking about how far virtualisation has come, especially with the addition of unity/coherence/whatever, and it got me thinking about a total integration platform. It would work something like this:

  • Each VM publishes applications to a shared desktop, and the user can select which desktop style to display (mac/windows/KDE/Gnome/etc), but applications from all VMs are there.
  • Each VM can use the total amount of RAM minus how much is being used by other VMs, so it dynamically adjusts the RAM limit for each machine.
  • Each VM has full access to the HDD. Not sure how this would work, especially with different formats, and Windows-style drives versus Unix-style drives (C:, D:, versus /whatever/somethingelse/)
  • Each VM can utilise the physical hardware, for example a game running under a VM gets full-performance graphics. Each VM would have to join the same wireless network though, and probably share an IP. The hypervisor would control port forwarding

There were a few more things I thought of, I'll add them when I remember them.

What do you guys think? How far off from something like this do you think we are? A few years? A decade?

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That is actually really impressive critical thinking, and would be great to see. Something like that would be really efficent. With cloud computing starting to come into play I could completely see this happening. Someone just needs to start working towards it but I do not see VMWare developing it themselves anytime soon. If they do I sold my shares way too soon.

I'm going to split your decade and call it a five year wait. With some of the processors and RAM advancements being ready to be released it is defiantly a possibility in the near future. All of the advancements are rolling out pretty fast.

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  • Each VM publishes applications to a shared desktop, and the user can select which desktop style to display (mac/windows/KDE/Gnome/etc), but applications from all VMs are there.

As VaKo said, this can already be done. VirtualXP in Windows 7 can do this already, and if you don't mind a little less integration you can do the same in almost every other major virtualisation application using coherence modes.

  • Each VM can use the total amount of RAM minus how much is being used by other VMs, so it dynamically adjusts the RAM limit for each machine.

This one's a little more tricky, think about it this way:

I have a list of random dates with numbers next to them and I also have a bunch of photos with those numbers on. I have to rearrange the photos according to date using the numbers. Say, for the sake of argument, I have a table with as many squares on it as I have piece of paper with numbers/dates and photos combined in which to rearrange my data. Now, if you suddenly decide you need to use some of my table for another task and you have to remove some of my squares then I no longer have a certain portion of those dates and photos to work with because you've put a tray on top of them to make tea. I'm going to crash (or get stuck) because I can't find the photos and dates I'm looking for any more.

In short, if you dynamically reduce the amount of RAM in a machine (real or virtual), you have to ensure that nothing is using it at that time otherwise the system will likely crash hard.

  • Each VM has full access to the HDD. Not sure how this would work, especially with different formats, and Windows-style drives versus Unix-style drives (C:, D:, versus /whatever/somethingelse/)

This is already possible with VMWare, and I'm sure other VM applications.

  • Each VM can utilise the physical hardware, for example a game running under a VM gets full-performance graphics. Each VM would have to join the same wireless network though, and probably share an IP. The hypervisor would control port forwarding

Some hardware can be used directly already, I believe Xen can allow near enough direct access to PCI devices. I don't know much about it though. I'm sure I read that VMWare and nVidia have both worked on graphics virtualisation too but again, not something I know a lot about.

So really, I don't think we're far off at all, virtualisation is already very good and I think it will only get better.

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Just a bit of reference, IBM has been doing hardware virtulization since like '92, so if you look at how far we've come in the 3 years that VMware has been popular, we're doing great.

If you consider the the technology is 17 years old.... maybe not so much :).

On the hard drive note, I think DataCore storage virtulization can do dynamic drives as all their addressing is done through Vvols.

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I have been a virtual box advocate for a while now, not for production networks, but for personal use, but I downloaded vmware server to my laptop the other day to try it out cause I need to get prep'd for server class this semester, and I would definitely have to say WOW.. Not only will I use it instead of V-box, but I am thinking of using my desktop @ home as the server and just access it from school. This way, if I need help with anything from my instructor, no longer do I have to give him my laptop, or even have my laptop @ school at all.. I can just throw him a login, and he's on.

I know that this can be done just with vnc or something of that nature, but I really don't care for my physical computer being broadcast over the internetz. Unless I setup tunneling anyways.. And if the vm get's screwed, Ill just have a failover setup. BTW, man does it take up some resources though...

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Take all the best features of current virtualization apps, improve on them. Get a room of tech savvy stoners/or non stoners, depending on how creative they are, to come up with new ideas.

And build some crazy amazing super application.

Sounds fun. but we need a big dev team xD

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