The History of Virtualisation: The tortoise that evolved into a cheetah

Just to clarify, tortoises do not evolve into cheetahs (although, what an innocuously intriguing image)… Nonetheless, it’s a relevant comparison when you consider the velocity at which virtualisation has developed over the past 50 years, enabling businesses to globalise and play a fundamental role in the development of economies. For me, the most captivating part is the journey virtualisation has been on since the early 1960s, from the origination of the first virtual platforms, to the ultra-fast transitioning cloud-driven world we live in now – and it’s still, and will forever be, evolving.

In honesty, if someone asked me what ‘virtualisation’ meant a few years ago, I’d have shrugged my shoulders and guessed it to be a name for the limited edition Tron DVD boxset. But how wrong I would have been.

Virtualisation is the virtual existence of a document, network, platform, or other digital entity that has replaced a physical product such as hardware, operating systems, storage and computer networks. But when you consider the consumers and businesses that depend on virtual networks, the depths of technology and the new generation of cloud-hosted platforms like Microsoft Office 365, It’s pretty remarkable how dependant we are on such platforms.

3 things you need to know about virtualisation

1. The early days

Virtualisation began back in the 1960s – a pioneering era which produced The Beatles, Jaguar E-Types and in fact, the first virtual platforms.

It all began with IBM creating and investing in time-sharing solutions, where computer resources could be accessed from multiple units via a virtual platform – this was a significant breakthrough technologically and financially. In 1967, the term ‘Hypervisor Software’ was born.

The next breakthrough was the introduction of this technology to businesses and consumers in the 1980s. Releases such as the Locus Computing Company’s ‘Merge’ virtualisation software was just one of the advancements made in this decade. But as we all know, the more time that passes, the faster technology develops. 

2. The evolution

Virtualisation picked up pace and advanced faster than ever before in the 2000s, with the proliferation of desktop PCs, software, hardware, storage data, memory and network virtualisation. Many companies and consumers migrated to digital platforms and took advantage of these technologies. At this time, companies including Xen, Innotex and Microsoft (launching ‘Hyper-V’) all saw the potential of virtualisation, how it benefitted companies large and small to work far more efficiently from a business productivity view, and the financial savings.

3. Virtualisation is the norm

In 2016, we’ve seen a new wave of cloud transformation technology positively impacting small, medium and large businesses. It’s becoming increasingly obvious to see why the likes of Microsoft Office 365, Sharepoint, Datto and endpoint security products such as Sophos Intercept X are convenient forms of business infrastructure. In addition, businesses are far better protected with intelligent endpoint protection that talks to the virtual network.

The equally engrossing part now is, what next?

The rapidity of technological advancements will continue, so it’s difficult to assume where the world will be in another 50 years – will handheld phones still exist? Will we have hardware installed into our brains? That’s maybe a bit farfetched, but you get the gist, it’s an elusive concept, and only time will tell.