back to article Still hoping to run VMware's ESXi on Arm any time soon? Don't hold your breath – no rush and no commitments

Despite earlier assertions, VMware has no immediate plans to turn ESXi on Arm into a supported product – and may never do it – because it’s yet to figure out why. So said Kit Colbert, the virtualization giant's vice president and general manager of cloud-native apps. Speaking to The Register on a conference call ahead of this …

  1. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    VMware is diversifying

    VMware NSX-T can already manage software-defined networking on KVM hosts. It wouldn't be a stretch for them to have vCenter (and by extension, vCloud Director and other tools) manage KVM hosts themselves. It would actually be a more prudent move than maintaining another hypervisor.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: VMware is diversifying

      But that then opens a Pandora's box of people purchasing much fewer ESXi licenses. That cut in ESXi licenses could far, far outway any increased vCentre revenue.

      1. JohnSheeran

        Re: VMware is diversifying

        ESXi is a free product. It's the management (vCenter) that costs you. So, managing other hypervisors with vCenter is still a revenue generator for them.

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: VMware is diversifying

          Er, only in its basic form. If you want to use vCenter, you have to pony up. From https://www.vmware.com/uk/products/vsphere-hypervisor.html

          Moving up to a paid vSphere lets you further optimize your IT infrastructure. You'll be able to:

          Pool computing and storage resources across multiple physical hosts.

          Have centralized management of multiple hosts through VMware vCenter Server.

          Deliver improved service levels and operational efficiency.

          Perform live migration of virtual machines.

          Take advantage of automatic load balancing, business continuity, and advanced backup and restore capabilities for your virtual machines.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you want to use vCenter, you have to pony up

            Didn't they play a similar game with VMware Player a few years ago? Started as free-to-use, and then once people saw what it could do, suddenly it wasn't free-to-use.

          2. JohnSheeran

            Re: VMware is diversifying

            Nonetheless, it's still free. You're not paying for the hypervisor, you're paying for vCenter as you so astutely pointed out.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VMware is diversifying

          While ESXi itself is free, how much use is there really in a standalone ESXi server not attached to a vCenter?

  2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Xen speed?

    Xen running linux on intel using its custom drivers, runs at only a 3% penalty to the bare metal. Which is awesome.

    Anyone know what it's like on ARM?

  3. BigE

    Build it and they will come...

    Are they just waiting for the hardware hypervisors to sort out most of the problems or does the VMware recompile model just work well on X86s?

    1. JohnSheeran

      Re: Build it and they will come...

      I would say that they are waiting to see what the demand really is. This conversation came up for other processor platforms years ago and they didn't support them then either because the demand for their product on those platforms was minimal at best. They know their audience.

      Open source platforms have the benefit of people that don't stand to make a buck having the time to recompile the product onto other platforms just for fun. (I'm mostly joking here but....)

    2. Adrian Harvey

      Re: Build it and they will come...

      I don’t think VMWare uses the “recompile model” at all anymore. That model was only necessary to overcome limitations of the x86 model that not all privileged instructions were trapped when running outside ring 0. Some simply failed or just behaved differently. VMWare rewrote those on code load so they could be emulated. Commentators had been saying for a long time that virtualisation was not possible on x86 due to architecture limitations. And the chip designers didn’t see any demand. Once that loop was closed and the architecture extended, VMWare moved to using the hardware virtualisation as it has higher performance.

      I don’t know what happens if you run VMWare on a really old CPU now - it may still have the software virtualisation code lingering somewhere, but I suspect it will just refuse to run....

      Anyway, a long way of saying that the original VMWare model is probably not necessary on any other CPU as they have had the benefit of seeing the x86 issues and avoiding them.

      1. The Unexpected Bill
        Go

        Re: Build it and they will come...

        It's been a while since VMWare established a requirement for a microprocessor having virtualization capability. I've forgotten exactly when this happened and a cursory search didn't turn it up.

        VirtualBox still provides for software emulation of an x86 CPU and doesn't require hardware-based virtualization support.

        ESXi is even stricter on the hardware requirements, as I found out recently when trying to shoehorn it onto a dusty old Dell Optiplex 755 with a C2Q 6600. (My intention was just to tinker around with it, as opposed to any serious use.) Even after finding an older version that would still consent to running on such hardware, it turned into a death by a thousand cuts kind of experience.

        Yes, people really do this. My reasoning is that it works and is paid for.

        I wish VMWare would have taken a different stance here -- instead of out-and-out prohibiting it, they could have said "you can do this, but we don't recommend it at all". I'm sure it would have been fine for casual tinkering.

        I stopped caring mainly because I had previously found ESXi's web based virtual machine client to be pretty buggy. Keyboard input reliability in particular was pretty horrible.

        1. drexciya

          Re: Build it and they will come...

          The VMware restriction is well-known, but it's there for a reason. Some of the newer, fancy security features, like virtual TPM, have additional requirements. You can still use version 6.5 if you have an unsupported CPU; the restriction was only enforced in 6.7 and later.

          The Web Client (Flash based) has been removed in version 7, and the HTML5 interface has improved a lot in 6.7 and 7.0.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: They know their audience.

    Remind me: who's owned or controlled (most of) VMware for the last decade and a half or so?

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