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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Milestone Day

Sometime in the 1990’s while at Bayfront Center I was networked.  Today I was virtualized.  Incredible as it might seem today, I can remember we accepted networking back then with some reluctance.  Search engines and the internet had no dominant place as they do today.  The major advantage of networking then was getting intra-organizational email.  This was before Google (conceived in 1996) was even heard of.  Had we known the future and the unlimited resources of the internet, I’m sure we would have been much more positive when confronted with the efforts required to network.  Today I was reminded of all this when I was virtualized.  While I still for a time retain my desktop computer, I can now access on a data rack of a server downtown the full functionality of a desktop computer—this functionality, since it is on the server and not actually a desktop, is called a virtual computer.  In the future, this functionality will be accessed by a less expensive and less powerful interface than my current desktop computer.  So eventually, say in seven years, a cost savings can start to be realized as today’s desktops are replaced by less powerful computers called thin clients.  Another future advantage will be the ability to link virtualized computers.  If 50 computers are linked, then a revision to the software loaded on the virtualized computer is reflected on all linked instances of it.  In other words, rather than having to install software (say a new version of Flash Player) on 50 separate computers, one need install it only once and all linked computers will reflect this update. Obviously this can be a great advantage in the deployment and maintenance of software.  But it may well be that as with networking, the greatest advantages of virtualization are yet to be identified. Vistas may open that are today not conceived of, being only the glint in the eyes of some unknown innovators working on a university team project.

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