The OS Conundrum

I have just finished reading a post on ZDNet titled “Are Hyper-V and App-V the new Windows Servers?” in which the author – Kenneth Hess discusses that the rise of virtualisation will shape the future of the Microsoft Windows OS such that, in his words:

The Server OS itself is an application. It’s little more than (or hopefully a little less than) Server Core. Of course, you could deploy either major server type onto physical hardware or into virtual machines.

The author is also advising his readers that they “have to learn a new vocabulary” and that they’ll “deploy services and applications as workloads.”

This has been a topic of discussion for many years now and I believe in 2006 Scott Lowe actually discussed this in one of his blogs “The Future of OS” and argued that the general purpose OS could vanish in 10 years’ time. Although, to my surprise he was at the wrong end of the stick regarding Mac OS X as we see today, windows  OS taking more advantage of the virtualisation solutions. It is only recently that they have tried building virtualisation into the OS (10.7) to run windows and Aqua applications side by side.
Furthermore, almost 5 years ago, Srinivas Krishnamurti of VMware wrote an article Get Juiced! describing a new concept (at the time). This new concept was the idea of a trimmed OS instance that served as an application container:

By ripping out the operating system interfaces, functions, and libraries and automatically turning off the unnecessary services that your application does not require, and by tailoring it to the needs of the application, you are now down to a lithe, high performing, secure operating system – Just Enough of the Operating System, that is, or JeOS. An OS finely tuned to the application it supports is smaller, more secure, easier to manage, and higher performing than a general purpose OS. A smaller footprint means IT organizations can run more instances per server.

The idea of the server OS as an application container—what Ken suggests in very Microsoft-ish way in his article – is certainly not a new idea, but it is good to see those outside of the VMware space opening up to the possibilities that a full – blown general purpose OS might not be the best answer anymore. Whether it is Microsoft’s technology or VMware’s technology that drives this innovation is open for discussion but it is obvious that this concept is already being deployed and will gain further popularity as IT companies will look to reduce their carbon foot print drastically.

The OS finished, but its just starting I would say !

Food for thought: If this really is happening then what is in store for massive upgrades in the pipeline i.e. Windows 8 coming out soon and Server 2012 in the planning as well?