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The Linux Key is Virtualization?

BOSTON -- Dell's Chief Technology Office Kevin Kettler presented Dell's vision for virtualization at this morning's keynote here. It's a powerful vision that extends virtualization beyond its traditional uses and into the mainstream.

Kettler began his presentation by reminding the crowd of a comment his boss Dell founder Michael Dell said during a LinuxWorld 2000 keynote. Dell said that he didn't believe that Solaris on Intel is the answer but that Dell believes the answer is Linux on Intel.

As a proof point for Dell's Linux commitment, Kettler explained to the audience that Dell runs its $56 billion high growth business on scale out of architecture based on Linux. Dell's supply chain management system runs on Linux and so it has put Linux front and center.

Virtualization expands the opportunities for Linux in a real way.

"Linux is bound by traditional platforms; virtualization sets it free," Kettler said. "Virtualization can really open a lot of opportunities for unique software applications and environments to run on a single platform."

Kettler explained that the key to Dell's virtualization vision is the ability to easily move applications across different physical pieces of hardware.

"In a virtualized environment, it becomes much cleaner around how we wrap and package things, and redeployment and reuse becomes phenomenal."

The traditional use of virtualization has been server and storage consolidation helping enterprises deal with underutilized servers.

"Enterprises today have low server utilization, and we're trying to help customers to a point where they can utilize near 100 percent capacity."

"Historically, virtualization has been driven by enterprise need at Dell. We believe that's about to change."

Kettler demoed a number of possibilities of running virtualized, purpose-built applications, such as a secure browsing experience or a dedicated gaming stack.

"It allows you to separate and isolate different aspects of what you might be doing on your machine," Kettler said. "A single machine with unique personalities that you can plug in and out."

The opportunity for Linux is for Linux developers to develop unique personalities to plug into the virtualized environments. The use of virtual machines was also noted as a way to deal with legacy operating systems issues. So instead of being forced to migrate, users will now have a choice.

"With virtualization, the opportunity is to drive Linux adoption even deeper on the client," Kettler said.

"There are still a few things that need to happen to make virtualization pervasive. Users need to embrace virtualization, and developers need to understand the opportunity. They need to support standards, and vendors need to revisit licensing concerns.

"We believe virtualization is key, Linux is key and both together can play a strong role both within the enterprise and the client."