Intel's Next Top Model?

Who else wants Mike's job? He gets to hang out at Intel predicting the future of computing.

Joe Hernick, IT Director

March 18, 2008

3 Min Read

Who else wants Mike's job? He gets to hang out at Intel predicting the future of computing.Fine. Mike Ferron-Jones does a bit more than "hang out" in his roll as manager at Intel's Emerging Model Program. Mike politely shrugged off my suggestions to re-brand his organization America's Next Top Emerging Model or the slightly more apt (but lower rated) "America's Most Smartest Emerging Model."

Silliness aside, picking the best model candidates is one of Mike's key responsibilities: evaluating existing computing paradigms and making predictions on which computing models will succeed. As you may guess, Intel has a vested interest in staying at the top of the game.

We didn't directly discuss Intel's Emerging Compute Models & Their Status in the Market study, released last month. Our extended interview today was intended to cover the current challenges of VM management in the enterprise. In case my editors or his boss are reading this -- mission accomplished. Management issues were discussed, the state of the market was reviewed, and basic strategies for success were identified.

Mike and I also went down a number of rabbit holes. Deep, dark, twisty ones looking at possible futures where every computer (server, desktop, laptop, thin client, or hand-held gizmo) is a VM platform. Where it makes sense to host single-user, single-OS boxes on top of an integrated hypervisor ... where purpose-built desktops ship with locked-down virtual security and management appliances unbound from a user's preferred OS.

I'll go so far (I won't put Mike on the spot here) that chip vendors become almost irrelevant in a world where all operating system instances are abstracted; if a VMM is managing hardware calls, IT admins or OEMs can build images for their VM host platform of choice without worry over motherboard chipsets or CPUs. The fine tradition of building an operating system image to fit a specific production run of workstations will become a quaint old-timers' story, right up there with punch cards, six-packs under the raised floor, and OS install discs.

The Emerging Model Program assumes that the industry will arrive at a number of "healthy software ecosystems." There will likely be multiple "winners" due to the wide variety of end-user requirements. The program's job is to help Intel deliver the best possible hardware solutions underneath those future environments. When pushed, Mike talked about the progress of vPro and VT-d as evidence of Intel's adaptation to change. He was understandably a bit reserved when asked about any unannounced details from Intel's product road map.

Virtualization offers enhanced opportunities to configure, distribute, manage, and quantify billing/charge-back for desktops. Mike and I agree that no matter what rabbit hole we all end up in, the future will hold more flexibility in workstation and laptop solutions with purpose-built VM platforms and enhanced vendor support models for virtualized environments out of the box.Who else wants Mike's job? He gets to hang out at Intel predicting the future of computing.

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About the Author(s)

Joe Hernick

IT Director

Joe Hernick is in his seventh year as director of academic technology at Suffield Academy, where he teaches, sits on the Academic Committee, provides faculty training and is a general proponent of information literacy. He was formerly the director of IT and computer studies chair at the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT, and spent 10 years in the insurance industry as a director and program manager at CIGNA.

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