Preinstalled Hypervisors And The Future of Operating Systems

Jay Lyman from The 451 Group (also check out the interview we did with John Abbott, Chief Analyst & Research Director at The 451 Group) wonders about the future of Linux distributions in the virtualization arena.

Now that VMWare announced that it will embed its ESX 3i hypervisor in different server platforms from HP, Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens and IBM, the question pops up how Operating System Vendors will deal with this change of platform.

VMWare certainly isn’t the only one with those plans, since Ian Pratt from XenSource mentionned exactly the same during his Fosdem talk.

How do the OS vendors react to this new feature ? According to Lyman’s blog post, Red Hat claims

it is hardware vendors such as AMD and Intel that will create that standard virtualization layer and capability.

and

Novell indicates VMware may be taking somewhat of a risk, though, since OEMs like HP will look to upsell to their own software to create and manage VMs, which ESX 3i can’t do.

A hypervisor still needs management tools, so that the guest OS’s can be initiated, stopped and migrated. Applications aren’t running on hypervisors (yet); they need an operating system for IO, Memory Management and Network stacks at least for the foreseeable future.

On a longer term, we’ll have applications running natively on the hypervisor for sure. But today Operating System vendors are hoping for a uniform and better way to support different available and upcoming hypervisors and off course those lightweight systems will also benefit from these improvements.

If I were in the Operating System market I wouldn’t worry yet at this pointis , just as with all other features that hardware vendors are selling it is still ‘only’ a feature. When ordering a Dell you can choose between different CPU’s, different hard disks, different Operating Systems and most likely in the near future, different hypervisors as well.

About the author

Kris Buytaert is a long time Linux and Open Source Consultant active in Belgium , Europe and the rest of the universe. He is currently working for Inuits Kris is the Co-Author of Virtualization with Xen ,used to be the maintainer of the openMosix HOWTO and author of different technical publications. He is frequently speaking at, or organizing different international conferences He spends most of his time working on Linux Clustering (both High Availability, Scalability and HPC), Virtualisation and Large Infrastructure Management projects hence trying to build infrastructures that can survive the 10th floor test, better known today as the cloud while actively promoting the devops idea ! His blog titled "Everything is a Freaking DNS Problem" can be found at http://www.krisbuytaert.be/blog/

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