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On the eve of VMworld, XenSource announces embedded hypervisor

Rumors of an embedded VMware ESX have been circulating for some time, but yesterday, XenSource Inc. beat VMware to the punch with the announcement of an embedded version of its own hypervisor, XenExpress OEM Edition. At under 128K, the hypervisor can be pre-installed by server manufacturers on disk or in flash memory, and will enable IT administrators to run Xen, Microsoft or VMware virtual machines (VMs) out of the box.

John Bara, XenSource vice president of marketing, expects XenExpress OEM Edition to dramatically increase Xen’s footprint in the server marketplace. “By the end of 2008, I expect one-half of the server volume worldwide to have [XenExpress OEM Edition] as an option,” he said, accelerating the penetration of their existing XenExpress by 20X.

Bara said that XenSource is working with “five or six” major server OEMs, and will be making several announcements about their identities in the next 60 days. In the press release, Dell issued a supporting statement, although it did not specifically say it would offer the embedded XenSource hypervisor.

Of course, the embedded XenExpress hypervisor has limited functionality in and of itself. However, it is license-key upgradeable to the full edition of XenEnterprise, complete with XenMotion live migraiton, XenCenter management, resource pooling, and Symantec Storage Foundation integration.

Burton Group Senior analyst Chris Wolf said that the XenExpress OEM Edition news was “some slick PR” on XenSource’s behalf, and that assuming VMware and Microsoft follow suit with embedded hypervisors of their own, showed that “it was changing how the [independent hardware vendors] ship hypervisors.” At the same time, he wondered where all this left the likes of Novell, RedHat and Virtual Iron. “They’re not part of the club right now.”

Stay tuned…

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