The battle for Hypervisor supremacy is beginning to heat up. While Geordi LaForge certainly had a primo "hypervisor" unrivaled by shade designers across the galaxy, let's focus on the virtualization persuasion. I promise, it's equally as exciting...
Besides the more well known players in the virtualization space such as VMware, Citrix (nee XenSource,) Sun and Microsoft working diligently to differentiate and provide lighter weight and more secure hypervisors, I found the news regarding Phoenix Technology's entry into the VMM wars quite interesting on several fronts. Here's what they have to say:
- Phoenix will provide a very thin footprint hypervisor called HyperCore that sits on top of their SecureCore BIOS which will be loaded before any other OS.
- HyperCore would naturally support the installation/execution of non-virtualized OS's such as Vista, Linux, etc. running on top of it.
- HyperCore provides a capability called HyperSpace which offers self-contained embedded operating systems/virtual machines which will allow users to dynamically switch between them and utilize them as isolated virtual appliances delivered in firmware. The prospective HyperSpace applications include web browsing, messaging, management and encrypted data stores.
- Phoenix has engaged with Joanna Rutkowska and her Invisible Things Lab to leverage her work done with her Blue Pill research which she is (now) describing as a very lightweight hypervisor (rather than a hypervisor rootkit) in order to deliver a more secure VMM.
I have yet to see the technical details regarding how VMware's 3i product loads out of flash, but certainly Phoenix is on a head-on with VMware in this space given their BIOS implementation.
This is very interesting because Phoenix has great BIOS market penetration (about 50% of the overall market and 60% of the mobile x86 market) and is in a good position to offer desktop machines with a compelling option for secure application environments. I mention desktops and not servers because the folks I've spoken to expect to utilize the VMM provided by their main virtualization infrastructure vendor for support, performance and reliability reasons.
I wonder how many more boutique VMM's we will see popping up soon and driving innovation?
Hypervisors today really represent an evolution in operating systems. In many respects, the virtualization capabilities they bring to the table really make Scott McNealy's mantra of "the Network is the Computer" seem just that much more profound. Everything's virtualizing; applications, network, storage, policy, data, operating systems...
In fact, when I was at VMworld, I spent a considerable amount of time in the VMware and Cisco booths speaking with product managers and engineers about service composition, provisioning and deployment in the virtualized infrastructure and it became clear that the game was going to change in wholesale fashion very soon.
Chambers referenced the Datacenter OS in his keynote and described that we'll shortly have a "fabric" which interconnects compute stacks, storage and networking which is managed by tools that allow for realtime dynamic infrastructure, including virtual machines.
You can bet that we'll see build/buy/ally decisions being executed here soon enough as the virtualization players jock for positioning within this ultra hot segment.
I plan to follow up with another post on the topic of the Datacenter OS shortly, but it will be interesting to see where new players factor into the mix and how sustainable they are under the weight of companies like Cisco, VMware and Microsoft.