worlds first online PC

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For several years I’ve read the marketing spin put out by company’s  about their cloud offering being the worlds first Online PC, Virtual PC or such.

The fact is that many company’s have been doing this for almost 2 decades.  We’ve certainly been doing it since 1995 and we were not the first.   Online Microsoft PC desktops became core Microsoft in 1997 when they purchased the rights to Citrix technology and re-branded it as Microsoft Terminal Server.  It’s definitely not new.

The emerging cloud platform industry is actually leapfrogging this model now.

I’m well aware of the market adoption of virtualization technologies like VMWare, Xen, KVM, et al, but the future is definitely not highly scalable if you’re going to virtualize a full PC desktop or server environment for every individual user.  That only perpetuates the old paradigm that a user must have a normal full PC operating system virtualized in a data centre.  At least 95% of the code will never be used and there is no shared resources such as memory or CPU.   It becomes impractical to run even 20 concurrent active users on a single CPU server.

The future of cloud platforms hosting Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is that they have to split up individual user processes and deliver these as services, not fully virtualized Microsoft operating systems.   The reward for splitting these into individual service components is that it can then scale perhaps 100x more than if just using standard virtualization.  That becomes very exciting.   This models in part the old mainframe style of sharing an individual program and memory space with multiple users.   It is in fact the only way that things can truly be scaled significantly.   It is not only possible to do this, the mainframe world and supercomputing world have developed exactly this over many decades.

We refer to is as a Para-Virtualized environments being that a Users total environment and individual running programs may be distributed across an array of servers and then delivered as one combined solution.

So if a vendor claims to have created the Worlds First Online PC then it is just sales talk.    Virtualizing the PC operating system that you already use is really not going to change the world and instead just perpetuates an out-of-date model.

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