[LINK] Green web servers with netbook components

Adrian Chadd adrian at creative.net.au
Wed May 20 10:20:55 AEST 2009

On Wed, May 20, 2009, Tom Worthington wrote:

> Yes. I did find it curious at the ACS Victorian Branch Green IT 
> conference to hear a series of speakers talking about a wonderful 
> "new" invention: Virtualisation. This is what we used to do back when 
> multi-user, multi-tasking operating systems were used on mainframe 
> computers. You only had one computer so you had to carefully balance 
> the load. It seems that the PC generation are having to relearn how 
> to do this and repeating the mistakes of the past, having not learnt 
> from history.

What is funny is listening to people being told these new fangled
methods of storage stuff with virtualisation and all the issues that
one would've learnt by merely reading up on S/390 type deployments
(eg servers running batch jobs which relied on each other; or
servers sharing the same underlying storage; and performance/scaling
issues that creep up) in textbooks written possibly before I knew
what binary was.

> It seems very odd that someone would take an application designed for 
> a single user operating system (such as old Microsoft Windows) and 
> try to virtualize it. The obvious thing to do instead is to get a 

Well, whats odd is someone taking a poorly written application designed
for a single, high speed computer with a small number of CPUs
and then virtualising it.

> version of the application designed to run on a multi-user, 
> multitasking operating system and then run that on a multi-user, 
> multi-taking operating system. You might then still decide to 
> virtualize the machine that is running on, but will have fewer 
> problems because the application will be designed to cohabit with others.
> If you have some legacy application you may be stuck with trying to 
> virtualise it. But that should be the last option and used for 
> important enterprise applications.

> It is claimed they can virtualise a Microsoft Windows application and 
> have it running at a reasonable speed using specialized software 
> <http://www.netleverage.com/Technology_Portfolio.html>. I saw a demo, 
> but this was in a city over ADSL and so not useful for judging the 
> speed via satellite in remote areas. This arrangement reminded me of 
> a dog playing the piano: it is not that it plays well, but that it 
> can play at all.

Anecdote: when i was first visiting the US, I took a trip to the VALinux
offices and had a chat with some of the guys hacking on a window manager.
The anecdote is that before the author had up to date hardware and
was developing on an old Pentium-100 or so (in 2000), the WM was lightweight,
and fast. Once he was given new accelerated graphics hardware, a new CPU
and dual screens, his window manager became more bloated, slower and used
up more screen real estate.

My feeling is that this current "green" movement in IT is ignoring where
the most savings would be - fixing the OS and applications - because its
probably the hardest. Whilst application developers build software on
high end microcomputers, its going to run crap on anything else.


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