The IT industry is experiencing the third wave of computing. The first wave was driven by the PC and x86 server revolution where inexpensive, commodity hardware started replacing the large, monolithic mainframes. The second revolution was ushered in the form of virtualization in which the virtual machine became the unit of deployment and management.
Cloud computing, both public and private, has its roots in virtualization. VMs formed the core building block of Infrastructure as a Service, the most preferred delivery models of the cloud. Amazon EC2, Azure VMs, and Google Compute Engine are the most popular IaaS offerings that are based on VMs.
The third wave of computing is evolving in the form of containers, which are getting ready to replace VMs as the fundamental units of computing. During the initial days of containerization, they were positioned as yet another type of workload that would run within a virtual machine. But the recent developments suggest that containers are maturing to a point where they can potentially replace virtual machines. This phenomenon will have a strong influence in the way IaaS is delivered to customers.
At the heart of virtualization lies the hypervisor – a software layer that was originally designed to run a variety of operating systems on the same hardware. Cloud computing providers relied on the hypervisor, not just for its ability to run multiple operating systems but to bring isolation among the tenants. Hypervisors promised programmability that led to automation, which resulted in self-service capabilities of the cloud.
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