Today, XenSource became the first vendor to officially announce support of an embedded hypervisor. Specific independent hardware vendors (IHVs) are not mentioned in the announcement, but I expect that we will all hear more details soon enough. While VMware has been rumored to have something cooking for months, they have yet to make any official announcement about their plans for an embedded hypervisor. Considering that VMworld starts next week, the timing of the XenSource announcement should not be considered coincidental.
So if you believe the VMware rumors and expect them to take a public stance at VMworld, that places two vendors in the embedded hypervisor club. If you think for a second that Microsoft will also not be a member, you’re fooling yourself. Next year, I expect that IHVs will ship an embedded Windows Server Virtualization Service running on the Windows Server 2008 Core OS.
So by the end of 2008, as I see it, three virtualization platforms will be available to ship on server hardware. Organizations deploying SAN-based virtualization solutions will be able to purchase servers with no internal hard disks and a hypervisor that resides in flash memory. To me, the movement to hypervisors that ship on the bare metal may impact how organizations purchase servers in the future. Instead of selecting an OS, they can pre-order a server with an embedded hypervisor.
So based on the XenSource announcement coupled with the fact that VMware and Microsoft embedded hypervisors, in my opinion, are foregone conclusions, we now know of three vendors in the embedded hypervisor club. Club meetings will likely be hosted by HP, IBM, and Dell servers, at a minimum (I’m basing my speculation on server market share). Now the question that we must consider is what will the impact be for virtualization vendors that are not yet in the club. Those vendors include Virtual Iron, Red Hat, and Novell. Membership may not guarantee success, but it sure doesn’t hurt either.