A couple of weeks ago a colleague mused whether hardware will become the roadkill of cloud computing and came to the following conclusion:
“Yes, server consolidation will continue to take place, but the need for highly available systems with the performance to handle greater workload intelligence will remain. You simply can’t have the cloud or virtualization without a killer physical environment. Successful cloud service providers must offer state-of-the-art cloud-based services. And that requires state-of-the-art hardware, virtualization and security-processing technologies to handle the demands of increasingly intelligent workloads.”
And I agree. Except that he totally missed one key component, an absolute necessity to deliver a cloud story, a datacenter, or any sort of computing for that matter. Can you tell what that is?
Yes, you are right: the operating system!
After all, something has to drive all that hardware and support those individual workloads running on top in an efficient, reliable, highly-available and secure manner.
That note struck a chord and reminded me of those occasional doomsayers prophesying the demise of the operating system. This is in stark contrast to the ever increasing requirements we are seeing from customers around mission critical computing, virtualization, storage, patch and update management, and seemingly mundane things such as networking (IPv6, anyone?) that keep my team and our engineering organization on their toes.
We have never been busier than we are these days, building and supporting SUSE Linux Enterprise, driving innovation within and around the operating system (think SUSE Studio) and a multitude of Open Source projects which then become part of forthcoming releases. And our market is growing by 20+% year over year, which looks like a healthy signal of life to this product manager.
So, where it says “state-of-the-art hardware, virtualization and security-processing technologies” let me add “state-of-the-art and cost-effective operating system technologies” to the list.
And note that virtualization and security are core operating system features these days, just like high availability, clustered storage, scalability, reliability, availability, servicability and more that are key ingredients of any serious deployment, be it cloudy, virtually, or physically. And to some extent even the very notebook I am using to type these lines.
d’Ehre, and don’t forget the operating system, my friends!