The Standard OS is Virtually Gone
Last week, Intel announced that it plans to certify its motherboards to run VMware's operating system. The VMware operating system is marketed under the brand name VMware Infrastructure, but it is effectively a "hardware" operating system. I use the "hardware" modifier because this product is not a "standard", general purpose operating system, but instead it is a platform for running virtual appliances. Each virtual appliance brings its own, unique "application" operating system with it, eliminating the requirement for a "standard" operating system to run multiple applications on the same server.
"Why is this important?" you might ask. Well, it is important because historically applications were artificially bound to the hardware infrastructure because the standard operating system had to support BOTH the hardware AND the application. Separating the operating system into independent "hardware" operating systems and "application" operating systems allows the hardware infrastructure to evolve independently from the application infrastructure, and vice versa. With this announcement, any application running any version of any operating system can be wrapped in a virtual machine container (creating a virtual appliance) and deployed to an Intel server by simply copying a file onto the "hardware" operating system.
Imagine, application installation that is as easy as copying a file to the server . . . every time. Imagine never having any conflicts among applications due to competing system service requirements. Imagine server utilization percentages in the high 80s because you no longer need to run "one app to one box" due to the impossible conflicts among applications. Imagine skipping at least one step of the DEV, QA, TEST, PRODUCTION application promotion cycle because incompatibilities among the app and the infrastructure are a thing of the past. If you are a software vendor, imagine eliminating all of the hassles of multi-platform porting, maintenance, and customer service, allowing you to drive 6 - 10 points of pure margin to the bottom line.
When virtualization eliminates the "standard", general purpose operating system and creates the new categories of "hardware" and "application" operating systems, we will all wonder why we tolerated so much pain for such a long time.