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The Circular Nature of Technology

History says that old becomes new again, & now virtualization & application-specific policy management are the newest old thing

VIrtualization Magazine on Ulitzer

Like technology, everything in life tends to repeat, although in newer, fresher and more useful applications. The fashion trend toward slim fit clothes shifts to baggy, then back again; suits go from three to two button and back to three; pastels and bright colors to earth tones as it shifts anew. Car design is similar: Mercedes, for example, regularly goes back and forth between rounded and square styles, and the re-birth of the Chevrolet Camaro revisits the shape of one of my favorite classics - the '68 SS. Only this time, newer, faster, sleeker.

Technology has seen similar circular trends. Take, for example, virtualization. This hot technology was actually originally pioneered by IBM in the 1960s and was commonly referred to as time-sharing, which allowed multiple users to share the same compute resources. Other mainframe vendors followed suit and used virtualization technologies in their systems. Fast forward to 1998 as VMware pioneered its snazzy new virtualization technology, first as a desktop solution and then on to server virtualization in 2001.

The concept of virtualization is definitely not new and in many ways has followed the same type of design cycle. VMware's innovation was in applying virtualization to the x86 platform and its success had a lot to do with timing, as many of the IBM virtualization patents were expiring. Right place, right time, right technology come together to form the basis of a major shift; but chances are, that technology was not in itself a new idea, yet the end result is a newer, more inventive and useful one for today's applications. In the case of virtualization, the collision of events included a combination of x86 computing becoming dominant in the datacenter; the proliferation of Windows/Linux operating systems; the state of the economy and dismal forecasts; the major cost, efficiency and flexibility benefits derived by virtualization; and new capabilities provided through abstraction from physical hardware. All these and more played a vital role.

Similarly, my company, HyTrust, developed a policy management system specifically for virtualization. Policy management is not a new concept by any means; for example, Virsa set itself apart from other general-purpose policy management systems by building a similar application-specific entitlement system for SAP in order to address the specific needs of ERP and compliance. The case is much the same with virtualization; there's a critical need to address the unique nature of the platform and its capabilities, in addition to addressing the dynamic nature of virtualization. Understanding the special context of the application is key to making policy management successful. In working with our partners, world-class organizations like Cisco and VMware, we know that policy management and automation are critical to making the dynamic datacenter possible. It is exciting to see HyTrust at the nexus of this shift that's revolutionizing datacenter technology.

So, what does all this show? Perhaps not only the cycle of old becoming new again, but also that it's usually a lot better and more exciting the second time around!

More Stories By Eric Chiu

Eric Chiu is CEO and founder of HyTrust, an early stage startup focused on secure virtualization management and compliance. He has in-depth knowledge about what’s needed to achieve the same level of operational readiness in virtual, as in physical I.T. infrastructures. Previously Eric served in executive roles at Cemaphore, MailFrontier, mySimon, and was a venture capitalist at Brentwood/Redpoint, Pinnacle, and M&A at Robertson, Stephens and Company.

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