Word on the street is virtual infrastructure purveyor VMware is preparing a reduced-footprint version of its existing ESX hypervisor, dubbed ESX Lite. The slimmed-down solution is set up to run directly within a server's firmware -- a notion that, while talked about, is virtually unheard-of in practice.Apparently Lite isn't just a frothy nickname; the hypervisor sucks up significantly less space than the default ESX 3.0.1, which can claim 8 GB of space on a system, across several file systems. A source suggested ESX Lite may consume as little as a few megabytes, making it a sweet fit for firmware -- or anywhere, for that matter.
VMware insiders report ESX Lite will be installed directly on the motherboard, better orchestrating deployment of an ESX host and ensuring 100 percent integration of hardware.
A streamlined ESX hypervisor means better reliability as it divorces the hypervisor from dependence on spinning hard disk drives. Vendor servers can ship diskless servers pre-configured with virtualization technology. Diskless servers also experience fewer failures, run on less heat and can be packed more tightly.
Then there are the usual added perks: Better security, better performance and efficiency.
The move to integrate the hypervisor into the server drives the VMware virtualization model in the opposite direction of Microsoft, which opted instead to integrate the virtual model into the operating system. That's the situation with its Viridian offering.
Principal IT Adviser Gordon Haff of Illuminata Inc. believes this makes sense. "Right now, virtualization is being made into part of the operating system, and VMware thinks it should be independent of the operating system. If VMware could convince a systems vendor to include it like a super BIOS, so to speak, then they are the ones who are in a controlling role, and not the OS vendor."
It merits noting ESX Lite is not an end-user product. Whether VMware already has a customer for the hypervisor, whose existence is still only as dependable as its anonymous sources, is anybody's guess.
News about the ESX Lite was reported to Search Server Virtualization by several sources close to VMware. VMware made no comment on the ESX Lite.