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"We see a real benefit in this thin hypervisor approach," says Jeff Carlat, HP's director of Industry Standard Servers software marketing. "A huge benefit of ESX Server 3i is the ability to reach customers that are new to virtualization."
HP will embed the hypervisor into 10 models of HP ProLiant servers, from standalone tower units and rackmount servers to blade systems. (Compare blade products.)These represent just about any type of HP x86 system a customer might want to virtualize, Carlat says.
Fujitsu says it will ship ESX 3i with its Primergy servers immediately, while Dell will reportedly integrate 3i into its PowerEdge servers in April.
HP will start shipping ProLiant servers with 3i on March 31, and believes the combination will make virtual servers easier to manage. Servers with 3i embedded will cost a few hundred dollars more than a server without the virtualization software, Carlat says.
Buying an HP server with 3i embedded lets customers manage virtual servers from HP Systems Insight Manager, the same program they would normally use to manage servers and storage. "They will notice managing a virtual environment as an extension of what they're managing now," Carlat says.
VMware introduced 3i last September, saying it would let customers "turn on their virtualization-enabled servers and boot directly into a fully-functioning hypervisor."
The major PC vendors already sell servers pre-installed with VMware Infrastructure 3, which is more expensive and robust than 3i. This heavy-duty product includes things such as disaster-recovery features and VMotion, which supports the movement of virtual machines from one physical server to another, Carlat says.
While lacking these extra features, 3i is the industry's smallest hypervisor according to VMware and can be deployed and start carving out virtual machines within minutes.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.