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VMware Introduces Hypervisor For Server Hardware

A host of server vendors plan to ship products with the new hypervisor starting at the end of this year and through 2008.

VMware has introduced a thin hypervisor, the foundation of virtualization environments, that will be integrated in server hardware from major computer makers.

The virtualization infrastructure vendor unveiled ESX Server 3i on Monday, the day before the start of VMware's user conference VMworld in San Francisco. Hardware vendors Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC, and others planned to ship products with the new hypervisor starting with the end of this year and through 2008. VMware also plans to make the technology available for download through its Web site.

By integrating ESX Server 3i, hardware vendors will provide a virtualization-enabled server that can be booted directly into a fully functioning hypervisor, which is the software that sits on top of the microprocessor and provides the services needed to run multiple virtual machines. VMs are the infrastructure used to run multiple business applications on separate operating systems on a single machine.

"We expect this advance to simplify virtualization and make it more easily accessible to customers as they refresh their computing infrastructure," Raghu Raghuram, VP of products and solutions at VMware, said in a statement. "As multicore systems become more common, virtualization will no longer be viewed as an optional capability by customers."

ESX Server 3i is the new architectural foundation for VMware's suite of virtualization infrastructure software. The new product is a "bare metal" hypervisor that partitions a physical server into multiple secure and portable virtual machines. ESX Server 3i is delivered in a 32-Mbyte package.

The tying of virtualization infrastructure to hardware also is a major focus of microprocessor vendors Advanced Micro Devices and Intel. During keynotes at VMworld on Tuesday, both vendors described the technology they currently provide for increasing performance of virtualization environments. "We believe virtualization will bring profound changes of how we look at the data center," Pat Gelsinger, senior VP for digital enterprise systems at Intel, told conference attendees.

The dramatic change envisioned by Intel and AMD encompasses technology that would eventually enable a company to virtualize the data center, as well as the desktop. By replicating IT environments, companies will be able to better manage the technology, reduce complexity, and better handle disaster recovery, the vendors said.

"We're at the beginning of something very powerful with virtualization," Gelsinger said. "We're building the data center operating system of the future."

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