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Marine Corps general speaks on virtualization

By Alex McVeigh, Pentagram Staff Writer | | November 30, 2009

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At the monthly Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association luncheon Nov. 13, Marine Lt. Gen. George Allen, director for Command, Control, Communications and Computers, spoke about the continuing need for virtualization for military operations.

The event was held at the Sheraton Premiere at Tyson’s Corner, and also served as a collection point for the Marines’ Toys For Tots program, as most of the more than 400 attendees brought and unwrapped toy to the luncheon.

The luncheon began with a short video tribute to several Marines who had been killed in the line of duty in recent months. The video included interviews with Family members and fellow Marines who served with the fallen.

Although it was a few days past the Marine Corps’ 234th birthday, it didn’t stop anyone from serving cake, as it was cut with the traditional saber. As Marine tradition dictates, the first piece of cake was served to the oldest Marine present, in this case retired Marine Maj. Gen. Ron Beckwith, who was born in 1933.

When Allen took to the podium, he spoke of how the Toys for Tots program had made a difference in so many lives, with more than 16.2 million toys collected during last year’s campaign.

Last year the program announced and new literacy program as part of Toys for Tots. This program aims to collect and deliver books for disadvantaged children around the country. Last year they collected 1.6 million books.

Allen also spoke about the importance of virtualization for Marine Corps, and the armed forces in general.

Virtual machines are an abstraction of hardware within actual hardware. Simply put, a computer can run several programs, each one acting as an independent ‘‘computer,” even though it’s talking place within one machine.

This allows programs whose operation would normally conflict with one another to run simultaneously on the same machine, while being run on two separate virtual machines.

The use of virtual machines, Allen said, will cut down on the amount of hardware in the field, meaning that there won’t be a need for as many Marines operating machines to be on the battlefield, as well as help streamline day-to-day office tasks.

A virtual machine can be transferred from actual machine to actual machine relatively easily as well, meaning they can be sent to different locations without physically being shipped.

For military applications, the hardware in the field needs to be rugged, small in size and preferably environmentally friendly, to cut down on power costs and infrastructure.

‘‘This [technology] is all about supporting our Marines in the field,” Allen said. ‘‘That’s why we’re here, to exist and [support] them in the field.”


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