An incomplete thought, a la Hoff..
1. Doug Tidwell's session on SCA and Cloud at Cloud Expo NYC in 2009.
2. the googling of infrastructure
3. the thought of operating systems giving way to (bare metal) management facilities
4. service profiles
5. the needs of distributed applications in automated & orchestrated data center infrastructures (virtualized or not)
6. ongoing abstraction of physical resources from applications, etc.
7. disaggregation of embedded metadata, configuration information, etc., from workloads, apps, VMs
When I put all of that together, I get this: application driven hardware.
Consider a pool of like hardware that presents a discoverable capability set via some standard interface. Then add a management facility that discovers all capabilities of all hardware that can be reached and advertises/exposes the collective capabilities.
Consider software components, which present discoverable capabilities and needs via some standard interface. Then add an architectural facility that can understand requests for specific functionality via some standard interface [this could just be a developer, mind you!]. Given a request, the arch facility can knit together the appropriate software components, if they exist, to create an application that can perform the function requested.
Consider an orchestration facility which reads the collective component needs of an application and matches it to a mgmt facility that advertises a set of capabilities able to meet those needs. The orch facility runs the app on that mgmt facility. The mgmt facility provides the app with the resources needed to execute its functionality. Then add workload (delivered by the orch facility, of course).
Consider an independent store to which meta-data, characteristics, performance, state, instantiated service profiles, foo, bar, etc., for the workload are written. Then add the need to scale [or whatever]. The orch facility can replicate the application, bind it to the same or new management facilities, and recreate everything needed for that workload.
There are no operating systems. There are just facilities, data stores, software components, and hardware. The facilities are brokers/exchanges that match hardware to applications.
Applications drive hardware.