Dell is planning to be the first computer maker out the door with a server that will include VMware
's ESX Server 3i hypervisor for virtualization
, embedded in hardware
The new server, highlighted during the keynote address Tuesday at VMworld 2007 in San Francisco and scheduled to ship by the end of November, is codenamed Veso. Optimized for virtualization, the two-socket system will have twice the memory of the company's regular two-socket systems.
It will also have two of AMD's new Barcelona quad-core Opteron processors, launched Monday. AMD has touted its new chips' support for virtualization, as has archrival Intel for its new Xeon server processors.
Power and Resources
As the chip companies vie for market advantage, virtualization is becoming a major battleground. Increased interest in virtualization is reflected in growing attendance at the VMworld conference. The first one, in 2004, reportedly had 1,400 attendees, while this year's has about 10,000.
Performance, power, and resource management are some of the key reasons virtualization is booming. Dell said that with the ESX Server 3i hypervisor embedded in flash rather than residing on the hard disk, and with the memory capabilities and I/O upgrades, the Veso server will have about 40 percent better performance than similar servers and will consume about 25 percent less power.
VMware's 3i hypervisor, which was introduced on Monday at the VMworld conference, will be hardware-integrated into servers coming out not only from Dell but also from Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens, HP, IBM, NEC, and others.
The 3i hypervisor is designed specifically to be part of server hardware, and so has been shrunk down to 32 MB from the previous version's size of 2 GB. The shrinking is largely accomplished by leaving out a general-purpose operating system, which most other hypervisors on the market have.
An Expected Direction
VMware said that hardware integration "simplifies deployment and management of virtual infrastructure." And it opens up a new era, said VMware vice president Raghu Raghuram, where virtualization is not an optional, separate item that must be added, but "is simply how industry-standard servers operate." Customers will turn on their virtualization-enabled servers, VMware said, and boot immediately into the hypervisor.
Eventually, said Forrester analyst Chris Voce, all server manufacturers will offer embedded hypervisors. He added that many observers had been anticipating that the hypervisor would be shrunk and moved into hardware. "It's a direction you now expect other virtualization software vendors will go as well," he said.
But he noted that "it remains to be seen" whether embedding the hypervisor will actually have much of an impact on the day-to-day operations of data center administrators.
In other VMware news, the company announced Tuesday at VMworld that it has acquired Dunes Technology, which, according to Raghuram, has a "powerful orchestration platform" that will allow VMware to automate the virtual machine lifecycle, from requisition to decommissioning. Terms were not disclosed.