Dell will begin the process of putting VMware ESX 3i hypervisor across all virtualization-certified Dell PowerEdge servers starting in early April, while 10 of HP's ProLiant server models will ship with ESX Server 3i beginning March 31. The first Primergy servers from Fujitsu Siemens Computers with VMware ESX 3i hypervisor are available immediately.
IBM was the first vendor to showcase servers with VMware's embedded hypervisor on its System x 3950 M2. IBM and VMware jointly received SearchServerVirtualization.com's Best of Show award at the VMworld conference in San Francisco in September, where ESX Server 3i was first introduced.
The advantage of embedding VMware ESX 3i hypervisor in servers at the factory is that the first virtual machine can be up and running within minutes of booting a server, said Jeff Carlat, director of marketing for HP industry-standard servers and software.
"By integrating ESX 3i into the ProLiant servers that are our most popular virtualization platforms, we can reach those customers who are starting to dip their toes into virtualization," Carlat said.
VMware ESX Server 3i is a stripped-down version of VMware's ESX hypervisor that fits into 32 MB of flash memory, compared with 2 GB for ESX. ESX Server 3i is so much lighter than ESX; with 3i, VMware has removed the service console and left only the core ESX kernel.
The embedded hypervisor advantage?
Though many analysts have said that embedded hypervisors enhance security levels and ease server users into the virtual world, virtualization analyst Andrew Kutz said he is "underwhelmed" by embedded hypervisors.
"[I] fail to see how an embedded hypervisor on a server -- besides the obvious absence [of] the need for local storage -- is that much better than a hypervisor coming pre-installed on hard drives," Kutz said.
Perhaps it isn't, but a server that comes pre-configured with an embedded hypervisor saves a step for users who plan to virtualize.
In addition to the convenience factor, vendors like how they can integrate ESX Server 3i within their own proprietary management software. In the case of HP, ESX Server 3i on ProLiant Servers is closely integrated with HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM) , Carlat said.
By integrating SIM with ESX Server 3i, HP's SIM management tool can monitor and manage virtual machines along with physical machines. For instance, system administrators can set SIM so that if a power supply blows and the server is compromised, SIM will alert a system administrator of the problem and automatically migrate any virtual machines to a different server, Carlat said.
In addition, customers ordering any of these servers can upgrade from the ESX 3i hypervisor to VMware's complete data center virtualization and management suite, VMware Infrastructure 3.
VI3 provides more features than the entry-level ESX Server 3i, such as automatic load balancing, power management and the ability to move a virtual machine across physical machines with VMotion. VI3 is also compatible with VMware's desktop virtualization.
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