One of the great advantages of the absurdly high powered machines we’re all running these days is that virtualisation is more than viable even for performance-hungry applications. Meanwhile Open source continues to crack open the hard nut called proprietary. Two recent pieces of news struck me and I thought worth capturing.
First off IBM acquired Transitive. This is major news. With Transitive’s technology POWER-based systems can run x86 applications. IBM is on a major tear around x86 consolidation- for better management, energy consumption and so on- and this acquisition should significantly accelerate its efforts to sell customers on the notion of data center consolidation.
Over lunch yesterday IBM Software Group general manager Steve Mills said something extremely smart, and absolutely relevant to the deal.
“Tech used to be about displacing labour. Today tech is about displacing tech.”
Of course consolidating servers also potentially allows you to cut staffing levels… which in the current financial environment is a more pressing concern than ever. We used to say Do More With Less. Now we’re going to live it. What’s the end game- Windows servers running on IBM mainframes is one possibility, though I can imagine negotiations between Microsoft and IBM about production support for customers are likely to be rather interesting.
Byron Dennis sees things rather differently, talking of “choking off user choice”.
The other bit of progress that struck me pretty squarely lately as part of the same broad trend, but here driven by open source rather than virtualisation is the Moonlight project, spanning Microsoft Silverlight 2 and Linux with Novell as the intermediary. Here’s Miguel. This is not a totally isolated effort- Microsoft is also working with a French software company to see Silverlight supported through Eclipse. The point here is that there is now developer tool and runtime support for Silverlight in open source environments. Also bear in mind that “the full Silverlight Toolkit is available under the Microsoft Public License, an OSI-Approved license that allows full reuse of the code.”
We’re increasingly living in a world where people say things like:
“The above program was built on MacOS, the result copied to Linux and then executed using the LinuxPlayer. This is still very basic, the port is yet far from done.”
“It would not surprise me one bit if Adobe open sourced Flash to co-opt Silverlight. And to make Flash content web-lucrative with Google.”
Bear in mind that Netflix is now supporting video on demand for Macs using Silverlight, so this is not all BS. The pressure on Adobe is real.
A big question after Microsoft’s recent PDC was whether you could deploy Linux to the Azure cloud. Given the powerful virtualisation technology in Windows Server that’s a business, rather than a technical decision for Microsoft.
Am I saying that proprietary technology is dead? Certainly not – many of the smartest developers on the planet are currently running headlong into the embrace of Apple environment optimisation, for example. But open source and virtualisation are dramatically changing the economics of enterprise computing. Write Once Run Anywhere- we didn’t get there with Java, but old mainframe technology is now changing the game.