Future of Virtualization = Embedded Hypervisor + Operating System Streaming

With recent reports of VMware “ESX Lite” as well as the advent of Operating System streaming technology such as Citrix Ardence, the future looks promising for virtualization.

Imagine using a combination of VMware ESX Lite embedded into 1st tier hardware manufacturers such as Dell, IBM, and HP’s servers and desktops with Ardence. You could manage the servers and desktops using Virtual Center and then stream the operating system to the ESX Lite hypervisor on the server or desktop using Ardence. Embedding ESX Lite in the hardware and using Ardence to stream the operating system would allow for complete hardware abstraction at the server and desktop level as well as the ability to remove spinning disk from servers and desktops, use solid state storage strictly on these devices, reduce storage utilization by using Ardence shared images, reduce cooling costs in the data center by using less disk, and many other advantages which these two solutions provide when paired together.

With Ardence alone you have a great solution, but you are not able to use a single shared image across all desktops because of hardware differences between devices. With the combination of Ardence and ESX Lite you could use a single shared image across different hardware platforms. You can already do this today on servers (not desktops) by using a combination of ESX Server and Ardence, but this requires installing ESX on physical disks or using SAN boot, but with the use of ESX Lite you would be able to do this on servers without local disks and without SAN boot. Additionally there is the potential to do this on the desktop as well if ESX Lite was embedded on workstations by a 1st tier hardware manufacturer.

I believe the future of virtualization is a combination of an embedded hypervisor + operating system streaming. The first players will likely be VMware and Citrix/Ardence using a solution described above, but I’m sure there will be additional competition and acquisitions along the way. Microsoft will likely have a play in this market in some form or another.

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~ by mindsecure on June 15, 2007.

13 Responses to “Future of Virtualization = Embedded Hypervisor + Operating System Streaming”

  1. Embedding the hypervisor onto server hardware is a work in progress. There’s been plenty of industry buzz it’s imminent and is to be expected by end of year.

    You really don’t need to stream the O/S to achieve what you’re describing. Before end of year, we will be able to demonstrate how the shared VM model can be realized without this extra layer of complexity.

    Good article.

  2. Great comment. I definately agree that embedding the hypervisor onto server hardware is coming and that is what the article implies. But the point of the article is to focus on the combination of embedded hypervisors and os streaming.
    Can you elaborate on what you mean by “we will be able to demonstrate how the shared vm model can be realized without this extra layer of complexity.”? I could definitely see VMware implementing a solution into ESX/Virtual Center that allows the use of shared images without streaming and that would be a really great solution as well. It would not give you the ability to stream to desktops without the use of iSCSI/SAN connectivity on every desktop though like os streaming does. I’m not sure that I would consider it another layer of complexity as much as I would consider it another level of cost savings, reduce management overhead, cooling needed, etc. Shared images dramatically reduce the cost of VDI. From what I have seen, the cost in storage alone for a VDI deployment without the use of shared images can be a show stopper in itself. In addition, streaming to desktop devices with embedded hypervisors brings a complete new solution to the table. You could reboot the desktop and boot another operating system on demand, say from XP to Vista during a migration, with a single image across the enterprise potentially with hardware abstraction. Today, hardware abstraction at the desktop level is not available from any solution I am aware of so you do have to create a shared image for every hardware platform you have in the environment and this can be staggering. This is just another option that can be used when it makes sense in addition to server based computing, virtualized desktops, etc.
    Definitely will be interesting to see how things progress on this front.

  3. We will a new feature before end of year that will allow multiple VMs to share a base O/S. This solution will work with VMware and other hypervisor solutions such as Virtual Iron. Yes, you will need a shared data store such as a NAS or SAN, but who doesn’t have some sort of SAN nowadays? A DataCore type SAN would more than suffice for the solution we’ll be releasing.

  4. I see. Good stuff. Although this does not offer the same flexibility as the above solution with streaming/hardware abstraction at the desktop level.

  5. Most customers I’ve talked to are looking to centralize their desktop infrastructure by replacing PC’s with thin clients. Besides, the Ardence solution only offers a shared image model only if you’re willing to forego of all changes that occur inside a machine upon reboot. Otherwise, users must each be given their own private images. This especially applies to power users who more often than not require full leverage over their desktop environment.

    Our solution will offer streaming (for those who want it) in a follow-up release. All the tricky points would have been addressed by the time the first release is out.

  6. […] a blog about “information security, virtualization, application delivery and storage,” ESX Lite is paired with Citrix Ardence, an OS streaming application, to positive effect. Embedding ESX Lite in the hardware and using […]

  7. Great article! The idea of having an ESXlite and streaming the OS allows for a better utilization of the client computing and better user experience. As virtualization technology advances, we will see a proliferation of various delivery and computing methods (terminal services, presentation server, application streaming, etc). Enterprise IT will find the need for a variety of these methods. Combining OS and application streaming with application virtualization is a good combination.

  8. Chuck,

    I haven’t seen anything from Intel in terms of leadership in this particular industry segment. You seem to be fascinated by all this streaming business 🙂

  9. Actually you can use a single image for all desktops with Ardence, this is called common image mode. The configuration of each desktop is based on it’s MAC address.

  10. Theoretically it is possible to use common image but it will not work across platforms that are quite a bit different. It is recommended they be from the same hardware manufacturer, similar motherboard chipset, etc. but may have different video cards, NIC cards, etc. I have heard Ardence state that you should not expect to get down to a single common image across hardware platforms and it is more likely you can reduce your number of images using common imgages say from 8 to 3 for example is what one customer was able to do.

  11. Has anyone considered how all this hardware abstraction will affect BIOS as we know it today?

    It seems to me that “ESX Lite” could/should be combined with BIOS to create some kind of “AIOS”.

    Having a well-defined/designed environment for device manufacturers to create device drivers for, would be an incredible boost for computing in general.

    Something like what I’m describing is well overdue.

  12. By reading this article I think you guys missed 2 other solutions for OS Streaming : HP Image Manager (which can use a single image on multiple Harware and support a Linux Server) and Double-Take FLEX.
    If you need more informations about HP Image Manager :
    http://www.damienbruley.com/vDisk.html

  13. Has anyone considered how all this hardware abstraction will affect BIOS as we know it today?

    It seems to me that “ESX Lite” could/should be combined with BIOS to create some kind of “AIOS”.

    Having a well-defined/designed environment for device manufacturers to create device drivers for, would be an incredible boost for computing in general.

    Something like what I’m describing is well overdue

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