Thursday, 23 October 2008


Just having a few thoughts on virtualisation. I grew up on MPE, VMS and started developing on MS-DOS v1.0. Is history about to repeat itself?

As more and more companies switch to virtualisation (aka buying fewer, bigger mainframes!) the hardware manufacturers will sell fewer low and mid range servers. The result of this will be that the high end servers required for virtualisation will increase in price thus reducing (or even negating) the hardware saving benefit of virtualisation through hardware rationalisation.

One of the reasons mainframe manufacturers got overtaken by the "mini computer" in the 1980s and 1990s was that the price of many small servers was significantly less than one or two big ones. Hardware vendors kept prices low because of the economies of scale in producing large numbers of smaller servers. Open Systems also drove this change but in my experience Finance Directors were persuaded more by cost than the value proposition of Open Systems.

Hardware vendors DID NOT INVENT virtualisation. This has been driven by software vendors. Hardware vendors are therefore having to ensure they position now to gain a market share so that when they do increase prices they'll have a captive market tied into their "proprietary" hardware.

OK..ok..ok.... I'm just speculating. But it's going to be interesting to see how it evolves.

  1. 1980s the rise of personal computers
  2. 1990s the rise of the network server and the demise of the mainframe
  3. 2000s the rise of SANs and the emergence of virtualisation
  4. 2010s the demise of the network server and rise of the mainframe