Server Virtualisation? Is 'Bod simply being obtuse; yes it is entirely possible but before you write this off as lunacy, I do have my reasons.
Firstly, server virtualisation is not actually a bad thing; it's been around for many years but the landscape today is actually more than a little concerning and I wonder if it will come to bite us really rather nastily over the next decade. The sheer number of virtual servers being built leads me to wonder about the long term sustainability of the current infrastructures and with the current virtualistion==cloud lazy thinking; I am really rather worried.
So how did we come to such a position? The seeds for this were sown in the early eighties when IBM launched the personal computer; prior to this (and yes I am ignoring the early adventures in personal computing by Apple, Commodore, Radio-shack and the likes), computers were large, complex and extremely expensive beasts managed by the computing department; access was very restricted and not many people had access. But with the personal computing revolution; our relationship with computers changed, indeed we actually started to develop a relationship with computers.
One person mapped to one PC; that's the very definition of personal computing but as these devices became more powerful, it became pretty obvious that they were capable of so much more but the big, multi-user, multi-tasking operating systems which ran on the large corporate mainframes were not available for these personal computers. So we ended up running larger and more complex applications on these devices but using the operating systems available on the desktop; these were single-user operating systems with limited multi-tasking capabilities. So an application per device paradigm became the norm and even when multi-tasking became available and more common; the paradigm had become firmly embedded.
And the lack of multi-user capablities really hampered the development of a centralised management and secure environment; so it became even more embedded. Add into that, a growth in CPU power far outstripping our ability to use it for a single application; we ended up in the position that we had rampant physical growth but with ridiculously low utilisation figures.
So in order to use this power and to manage it effectively; we have looked to server virtualisation to fix this problem allowing us to build virtual servers which more effectively use the available CPU or more to the point allow us to run multiple single application servers on a single physical server. It also allows concurrent management of these applications to be more easily achieved. Even the rise of the Intel-based Unix systems has not done little to break the paradigm of one application per server but instead of a physical server, we now talk about virtual servers.
It doesn't have to be this way and we only have to look at the way that virtualisation is used in the mainframe environment; you don't talk about running 1000s of server instances, you are more clever about how you virtualise. You may virtualise an environment but it will still only run a few actual virtual machine instances.You may group related applications into a single machine instance but not have those applications running as separate server-instances.
We could do this in the Intel-space; we should move away from the default position of one application per server instance, we should move to the position where we understand why we do so. There are applications which certainly work better when run in massively distributed and parallel environments but this is not every application. A database server can run more than a single database instance; a web-server can run more than a single web-server.
Okay, it's not server virtualisation itself which annoys me but the unthinking use of it and the traps that we are busy building for ourselves.
Turning desktop operating systems into powerful server systems probably was not the wisest move that the IT industry made but the short-term gains were probably too attractive, can we hope that we don't do the same thing with mobile device operating system? Actually, I am not that hopeful really; history does unfortunately have a habit of repeating itself.