The real meaning of… Virtualisation

The great legend of virtualisation demystified

Virtualisation is a term that means whatever you want it to really, by removing all participants in a conversation from reality. It’s a bit like when you go to the theatre, and you’re asked to suspend disbelief. You might see two men shouting at each other on a tiny stage, but the software in your head is being asked to layer on more detail, setting them at the scene of the Crimean War as the Charge of the Light Brigade is about to begin. 

No hang on, those two protagonists are from 1970s America. One is from IBM and one from another mainframe computer company called the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). For further sensory stimulation and virtual placement, try to imagine their body odour. (From memory, men didn’t have great personal hygiene in those days). 

The conflict driving this two-man drama stems from their disagreement over the roots of virtualisation. Open VMS is a virtual memory based processing system proposed by the DEC man. Meanwhile, the IBM man is insisting that MVS (multiple virtual storage) is the correct starting point for today’s popular concept of virtualisation. 

Who knows who is right? As with many arguments, a fundamental truth is lost in all the shouting and it is this: For many decades, anyone who bought a computer was convinced to put their entire knowledge base (also known as their data) into a sort of intelligence prison, from which the vendors deliberately made it very difficult to escape. Imagine this is a David Mamet play and these men are playing a terrible confidence trick. 

The sacred legends of your company, its entire philosophy, its secret processes and its whole database of customers and suppliers, were imprisoned into this metal box and never allowed any daylight. They were locked in tighter and secured more religiously than the Ark of The Covenant and the proprietors of your data (IBM, DEC and all the companies that followed them) ruthlessly exploited your need for it.

But now, thanks to the liberalising effect of VMware, which effectively created the conditions in which processing power, storage and memory are all allowed perfect liquidity and no longer confined within a box, there is a free market for computing resources. We’re free at last and out in the great open computing yonder!

So, all the ransom-charging proprietors must now present themselves as open and free market friendly. 

That really does call for a virtual leap of the imagination. 


Also read:
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The real meaning of… Bitcoin
The real meaning of… ChatBots
The real meaning of Disruptive Technology
The real meaning of… the e-prefix
The real meaning of… Futurology
The real meaning of…3G and 4G
The real meaning of… Hard-wired
The real meaning of... Information Age - interruptive technology
The real meaning of… Jabber
The real meaning of…. Killer apps, Kyoto, Keyword stuffing and Knowledge
The real meaning of… Legacies and Leverage, Leadership and Language
The real meaning of… Mobile, Machines and the Malware Man-in-the-Middle
The real meaning of… NAND
The real meaning of… Open Source
The real meaning of… Phishing
The real meaning of… Quantum Computing
The real meaning of… Ransomware
The real meaning of… Serverless Architecture
The real meaning of… Trolledge
The real meaning of… Unified Communications (UC)