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Honey, I Shrunk the Hypervisor

Diane Greene's keynote address at VMworld 2007 on Tuesday included the announcement of VMware's new, improved, and smaller ESX Server 3i hypervisor. Putting this in perspective, the current VMware ESX hypervisor wields a footprint of a little over 2GB - the Red Hat Enterprise Linux v3 (RHEL3)-based Service Console takes up 2GB, and the Kernel hypervisor, 32MB. Not bad all things considered.
But now imagine a smaller hypervisor - so small it fits on a USB key that nowadays would be considered undersized by a long shot.

VMware's new thin hypervisor has no operating system dependencies and weighs in at 32MB. 32MB! The beta version was distributed to all VMworld attendees on a USB key, and although it came with the proviso that the delivery mechanism was intended for testing purposes only, it's not a stretch to think that this may become a supported platform in the future. Have hypervisor, will travel.

This is pretty slick. Hardware vendors now have the ability to integrate the hypervisor right into the server hardware. And integrating they are. While all the usual suspects are jumping on the bandwagon, Dell will have the distinct honor of bringing the first server with the embedded thin hypervisor to market, slating a ship date at the end of November. No word yet if this tiny hypervisor will ever need to receive updates of any kind and how that is accomplished.

So be on the lookout for the new thin hypervisor from your favorite hardware vendor. Saying that this will change the landscape in an already quickly shifting market is an understatement. If you haven't started a virtualization project in your enterprise, an embedded hypervisor that requires no installation and yields a short order infrastructure deployment should making it that much harder to stay away.