back to article VMware's 'Calista Flockhart' hypervisor may or may not change the world

This piece on VMware's new ESX 3i hypervisor arrives with great sadness. How – we wonder – could our dear readers at VMware, IBM, HP, Dell, Sun Microsystems and others have kept this technology a secret? Why did we get little more than hints here and there? We can hear it now. "Play your violin somewhere else, hack. Type …


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  1. joe_bruin

    Lightweight, so what?

    While this embedded hypervisor is nothing to be scoffed at, why are we so happy about VMWare having stripped features off of their flagship product? I can buy 2GB of flash (SD) at retail for 25 USD (so figure out how much Dell pays). Why didn't Dell go all the way and include the full version of ESX server plus management console and so on instead giving customers the emaciated 32MB version? Surely if my navigation device and my ipod and my phone can all have 2 or more gigs of flash memory, my Dell servers can afford it.

    Again, I'm not knocking the product. It's great. But let's not forget that in this context, "embedded" does not have to mean "reduced".

  2. David Wilkinson

    Its leaner and more modular.

    The reduction wasn't the enhancement, it was a side effect of the enhancements they wanted.

    It was 2 GB of hacked together management software + Red Hat.

    The new system is leaner and more modular. They decoupled the management software and now it works through a standardized interface.

    You can install the management software in whatever OS you chose. 3rd parties can tap into the interface.

    I don't think the new system is stripped down, I think the old system was bloated.

  3. Daniel

    Re: Lightweight, so what?

    "Why didn't Dell go all the way and include the full version of ESX server plus management console and so on instead giving customers the emaciated 32MB version?"

    Um, licensing costs and agreements. That's the whole point here, really. Dell (and the other OEMs) sell you machines with a hypervisor embedded. If you want management for it, you have to go to VMware and open up your wallet; this is VMware's brilliant plan. I thought that was one of the central themes of the article.

  4. Magellan

    Not a new concept

    I proposed this idea back in January:

    Timothy Prickett Morgan proposed this idea in April:

    Obviously, the idea was pretty obvious to both VMware and XenSource, as they were both likely working on the idea before I thought of it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just what we need!

    The biggest news here is the removal of the service console.

    The problem with the service console is that it's seen as an operating system.

    Info sec guys get all worried about the presence of an O/S without AV and all that other good stuff that VMware just didn't want on the console as it destabalises the platform. The removal of this basically means that they now really treat it as a bare metal platform and these arguments die.

    It also kills those issues raised about the use of Linux within ESX and the fact that ESX isn't a proper hypervisor.

    I know it will make my life easier - good one!

    Hopefully they will opensource the CIM model and allow all the hypervisor vendors to use it - we then get to choose the management toolset we like.

  6. Bronek Kozicki

    A nice example of decremental development

    Decreased coupling, increased cohesion - they did the right thing from software engineering perspective. And it seems to be right from the financial perspective as well. Way to go, VMWare!

  7. Dermot Reynolds

    Defiantly not a new idea.

    Loading up a thin hypervisor onto a diskless server has been in VirtualIron since they began. The difference is that they pxe boot it off a centralised management server.

    The question with loading it into flash is “how do in upgrade the damn thing?”. Booting it from a centralised management server – like VirtualIron - allows you to install any modifications centrally and simply do a reboot of the virtualisation node to redeploy. Compare this to having to do a flash upgrade on each of 100 servers....not nice.

    Also, what if you don’t want the flash option; will Dell, HP, whoever allow you to buy the thing without it and the money off? I, doubt it! :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gaming consoles...

    already have it, since both the ps3 and the xbox360 have a built-in hypervisor. They are single instance ones, but the v86 subsystem that was present in windows from win3.0 to winxp was also a multi instance hypervisor. Not to mention apple's built in multi os efi bios. Actually it's fairly logical to provide the hardware abstraction layer in the bios, especially with x86 hardware accelerated virtualization, where the example code is provided by intel in their x86-64 architecture manuals. Btw adding a small ide flash disk or an 'isa style' bios extension card works the same for existing servers.

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