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VMware demos hypervisor; vendors outline roadmap at VMworld

Bridget Botelho
SAN FRANCISCO -- On Tuesday, Sept. 11, VMworld 2007 opened with news from Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware Inc., which announced its acquisition of

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Dunes Technologies. This update was followed by keynote addresses from VMware President and CEO Diane Greene and from executives at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.(AMD) in Sunnyvale, Calif.

For more on VMworld and virtualization:
VMware kicks off VMworld with embedded ESX Server 3i

VMworld 2007 roundup

IBM, HP rally behind the embedded hypervisor
Virtualization's gains
"Virtualization is one of those technologies that comes along in our lifetime that changes everything," said Hector de J. Ruiz, chairman and CEO of AMD. "It addresses energy efficiency and affordable Internet access and shifts control from IT vendors to IT customers. When the idea of virtual machines presented itself, the industry was given a choice: Either innovate or get out of the way."

Intel and AMD have make efforts to gain ground in the virtualization space. So too has the rest of the industry, as evidenced by the turnout at this year's VMworld conference in San Francisco. This is the largest VMworld conference to date, with some 10,000 attendees. Compare that number with the 1,400 attendees at the first VMworld conference in 2004.

Virtualization is one of those technologies that  ... changes everything.
Hector de J. Ruiz,
chairman and CEOAMD Inc.

Following up on Monday's announcement of VMware ESX Server 3i, an embedded hypervisor , Greene explained the difference between an operating system and a hypervisor. She emphasized that the two are not the same and that a hypervisor does not equal a virtual infrastructure.

ESX Server 3i, VMware's new embedded hypervisor, sits on a flash drive on the server hardware. At 32 megabytes, it is thin and allows for unparalleled security and reliability. It has absolutely no tie to an operating system, Greene said.

The first shipment of ESX 3i will come from Dell Inc.'s box, code-named Veso, due to ship in November, said Mark Jarvis, chief marketing officer at Dell.

In front of thousands of VMworld attendees this morning, Jarvis and Greene featured a demo of the new embedded hypervisor ESX 3i on a Veso system with two two-socket AMD quad-core processors; and the trial went off without a hitch. The server booted up, then Greene located the virtual machine and easily added it to the inventory by dropping it from the network onto ESX 3i. The entire process took about two minutes.

Prerecorded messages from vendors supporting ESX 3i were shown during the keynote, including those from IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, and NEC Corp.

Greene said virtualization offers new answers to old problems and that VMware has been working alongside competitors Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc. to establish standards for virtual machines.

VMware's acquisition of Dunes
VMware also announced its acquisition of Dunes Technologies, a company that provides IT process orchestration software for virtual environments. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The software allows users to maintain control over an increasing number of virtual machines and to prevent server sprawl, said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions at VMware.

Dunes' product complements existing VMware management and automation software including VMware Lab Manager and the recently announced VMware Virtual Desktop Manager. Dunes Technologies is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, with offices in Stamford, Conn.

Intel, AMD address virtualization priorities
In addition to VMware's demo and acquisition annoucement, Intel and AMD weighed in on the virtualization landscape and offered a roadmap for future focus.

Intel's Patrick Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, said Intel has taken a comprehensive approach to virtualization and has re-architected its processors to accommodate the technology.

Intel is adding a full set of virtualization capabilities into its processors, such as Flex Migration for live migration of virtual machines and Extended Page Tables (EPT), which is due out in 2008, to minimize virtualization overhead.

Some challenges of virtualization, Gelsinger said, include measuring cache and bandwidth to allocate applications appropriately as well as security. "The virtual machine is a new destination for attacks as it becomes more and more popular," Gelsinger said.

As users consolidate servers and run multiple virtual machines on a single server, it creates a single point of failure, and reliability increasingly becomes an issue, he said. Gelsinger said that the demise of the mainframe 20 years ago hasn't taken place because of that reliability.

"How do we accelerate the decline of the mainframe?" Gelsinger asked. By making reliability central to x86 technology so that users don't have to rely on mainframes, he said.

For I/O virtualization to provide high throughput, low CPU utilization and low drive latency, Intel has created technologies like Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O, which provides remapping capability to control and monitor direct memory access and also perform direct I/O assignment under the control of the system software.

Intel's Virtual Machine Device Queue (VMDq) technology in the NIC, for instance, provides multiple hardware queues and offload features to reduce the software overheads associated with sharing a single networking device between multiple virtual machines. It more than doubles I/O platform with VMware ESX Server using an Intel Xeon 5300, according to Gelsinger.

Following Gelsinger's speech, Ruiz addressed yesterday's unveiling of the AMD native quad-core processor, code-named Barcelona. He then focused on how companies can become more environmentally friendly as well as broaden Internet access through virtualization technology.

Ruiz said that AMD has reduced power consumption by 79% at its Austin, Texas, data center by consolidating117 servers down to just nine with virtualization technology.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

Also, check out our news blog at serverspecs.blogs.techtarget.com.


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