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Trimmed Hypervisor: watch out for ESX 3i at VMworld!

VMware, one of the newest darlings on Wall Street and the kingpin of server virtualization, is hosting the VMworld 2007 show in San Francisco this week. And the company's slimmed down, bare metal hypervisor, called ESX Server 3i, is undoubtedly going to be a hot topic of discussion. ESX Server 3i, which is a much skinnier version of the company's flagship virtual machine hypervisor, is not only designed to have a smaller footprint on systems, but to actually be embedded into systems.

Embedding a virtual machine hypervisor into a server, workstation, desktop, or laptop are the next logical things for the computer industry to do, and even VMware's main competition in the space, XenSource, agrees. Last week, knowing that VMware was prepping to launch ESX Server 3i ahead of the VMworld event, XenSource jumped the gun and debuted its own XenServer OEM Edition, a hypervisor that XenSource and Citrix Systems, the company's future parent if the $500 million proposed acquisition goes through, hope makers of servers and other kinds of X64 gear will embed on hard disks or in flash drives and make a part of their machines from the get-go.

ESX Server is, for all practical purposes, the default hypervisor for X64 computing in the data center, although the Xen hypervisor is making some headway now that XenEnterprise V4 is on the market and offering equivalent functionality and Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell have embedded Xen inside their respective RHEL 5 and SLES 10 Linuxes. VMware sells a lot of instances of its Workstation hypervisor to application developers and has add ons to help manage sophisticated and virtualized test environments, and it distributes plenty of copies of its freebie VMware Server hypervisor as well. But ESX Server is the de facto X64 server hypervisor at this point, and it is the one that companies certify their software on first.



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