Monday, October 17, 2005

UPenn Course on Virtualization

Zachary Ives, E Christopher Lewis, and Milo Martin are teaching a survey course on machine virtualization. The paper collection works its way up from a worthwhile introductory material ( J. E. Smith and Ravi Nair) all the way up to some true exotica (Phil Levis and David Culler: hi, Phil!).

When I started working at VMware in 2000, I was coming straight from undergraduate education and a brief stint as a research assistant. At that time, virtual machines were very much at the fringes of academic interest. Each year, with every passing conference, virtualization has become hotter and hotter. I admit, at this point, that virtualization has probably become a bit of a fad; people apply the term "virtualization," or "virtual machine," to software constructs that could more easily be construed as microkernels, or APIs, or libraries, or P-code, or what have you, because those ideas seem old and busted, while "virtualization" is the new hotness. Our time in the sun will pass, and some of those papers will, in time, look just as head-scratchingly weird as some of the farther-out exokernel papers from the late '90's. Still, it's been really gratifying to see the level of mainstream interest in an idea that's always fascinated me. I'd like to think that my work has, in some small way, contributed to this upswell in interest in virtualization. By showing that full-system virtualization could be practical and efficient, even in a hostile environment, I think VMware helped point the way to this floodgate of interesting ideas.

Lest I let my head get too big: IBM pretty much did all this while my generation was but a gleam in our fathers' eyes. Credit where it's due...


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