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Breaking Down the Client Hypervisor

Brian Madden has a fascinating post up about VMware's upcoming bare-metal client hypervisor. Few details have yet been released about it, and Brian does a great job examining all the various angles.

Not much was released about the client hypervisor at VMworld, and VMware has been tight-lipped about development -- CTO Stephen Herrod made a quick mention of it during his Wednesday keynote, but no shipping date has been announced, and we don't know much more about it than the project exists.

Still, it's hard not to get excited about the potential of a bare-metal client hypervisor. As Brian points out in his article:

There are several advantages to running a hypervisor on a client device:

  • The hypervisor provides generic hardware to the VM, so a single disk image can be used on very different types of devices.
  • Since the VM is running locally, it works offline, and you don't have to worry about thin client remote display protocol

At VMworld, I talked to a VMware employee and he said that the client hypervisor will not be based on ESX or ESXi, VMware's server hypervisors. The requirements are just too different, he said, when you factor in client requirements like graphics, video and other multimedia.

It's interesting that no other vendors have discussed a Type I client hypervisor yet (that doesn't mean Microsoft, Citrix and so on aren't working on one -- just that they haven't released any information about it), given the obvious benefits. Now that VMware has broken the ice, however, I predict we'll see similar announcements coming soon from the others -- there's still a lot of "me too" announcements in the industry, and they mostly follow VMware's lead.

Posted by Keith Ward on 10/13/2008 at 12:48 PM


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