Virtual PCs, Storage Networks and a Mobile Supercomputer?

Loraine Lawson

The big news this week -- so far -- is Microsoft's recent virtualization announcement. According to this article, Microsoft's vision is to provide for a virtual environment from the data center to the desktop, according to


Globe and Mail technology journalist and blogger Jack Kapica called this approach to virtualization "yet another revival of the old notion of a 'thin client.'" Both Microsoft and VMware offer solutions that make it appear you're using an application on a PC, when in fact, it's running off a server. You can also use virtualization on your PC to run two different operating systems.


It seems like virtualization is everywhere, but that's apparently a media mirage. According to Microsoft's Shanen Boettcher, the general manager for the Windows client, only about 5 percent of worldwide servers and less than one percent of desktops are actually virtualized, which means this is still very much cutting-edge technology in the real world.


As it turns out, there is a different type of virtualization that's catching on in small- and mid-sized businesses: Leveraging untapped PC processing power for a grid-based storage network, according to a recent Grid Computing Planet article.


Most companies don't even know about the capacity sitting unused on their desktop, Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman told Grid Computing Planet. Reichman said virtual storage using desktop PCs will work just as well as the real thing, provided you have the bandwidth and define the workload so it doesn't drag down your PCs.


It's a clever idea, actually. If SETI and Wikia can put that power to work, why not you?


Although, it does give me pause: Is virtualization leading to a Bizzaro IT World, where your PCs work as data servers and networks while your servers are busy running applications once installed on desktops.


Since we're on the topic of unusual uses of grid technology, check out this recent CIO-Today article on Google's mobile platform, Android. The article begins with an introduction to an application called GridGain, which is just one of thousands of programs you will be able run on Android -- if you can ever buy a phone that uses the platform.


GridGain is a grid-esque application that would "harness the processing power within millions of cell phones to create one big supercomputer."


To me, that reads like an evil plot hatched by Mojo Jojo from the PowerPuff Girls, or Dr. Evil from Austin Powers -- for those of you who don't "get" cartoons. But these guys are serious.


I'm 99.9 percent positive they plan to use their programming powers for the forces of good. It's probably too much Sci-Fi Channel, but a small part of me is very uncomfortable with a supercomputer sending messages to hordes of mobile phones.


Hold on. My cell phone is ringing. BRB...

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 14, 2008 2:35 AM Jack Jack  says:
Thank you for this post.I would be considering the recommendations given therein. Reply

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