Large commercial operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, will no longer exist within five to ten years, according to a senior VMware executive. Instead there will only be very thin open source operating systems supporting virtual appliances.
According to Paul Harapin, managing director for Australia and New Zealand at VMware, Windows and other large operating systems are already starting to be replaced by virtual appliances running on thin layers of Linux.
"When you go to Cisco and say you want a router and a firewall, they provide you with an appliance," says Harapin.
"Inside that appliance is probably a bootstrapped Linux operating system that they manage themselves, there's memory and all sorts of devices. If something goes wrong with that appliance, you don't open up the router and try to determine whether it's an OS problem or a memory problem, you simply call Cisco and tell them that's there's a problem with your appliance."
Paul Harapin claims that this scenario is the forerunner of what is to come in the computing environment.
"What that means is they don't need you to buy a large commercial operating system from Microsoft or anybody else," he says.
"They use their own open source OS, a very thin layer of operating system. They take out all the unnecessary components that are in a large commercial OS because they're customising the OS to optimise the use of their applications. They essentially package that up as an appliance, a running server or a running application, and they send it to you. If you're running a VMware infrastructure, you just drop that on and there's your server up and running.
"If there's a problem, there's no operating system that you need to worry about because you simply call the software (application) vendor up, tell them there's a problem with their VM, and they'll snapshot the VM, patch it and send it back to you. So it's an appliance but it just has no hardware around it."