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XenSource dishes embedded hypervisor to OEMs

XenExpress OEM Edition for servers

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The hype for virtualization may be reaching a fever pitch, but market penetration remains at a high-ball figure of only about 7 per cent. The aim now falls squarely on selling in volume, so it's not a surprise to see the market eyeballing OEM vendors.

Rumors have blown about virtualization leader VMware prepping a "light" edition of its ESX Server hypervisor, which would run directly within a server's firmware. There have even been inklings it may be shown as soon as next week at VMworld.

But XenSource is jumping that potential announcement by unveiling XenExpress OEM Edition. This new flavor of Xen will allow server makers to pre-install the hypervisor on a disk drive or flash memory — configured specifically for the machine —and ready to run on a x64 system out of the box.

"It's a completely hidden component," said XenSource CTO Simon Crosby. "You buy a server, apply power to the box, and it will come up with a bunch of BIOSes. The whole thing is extremely simple and easy to administer."

The package comes with XenExpress V4, Xen's gratis version of the hypervisor that supports two sockets with up to 4GB of RAM, and hosts up to four virtual machines. Of course, it can be upgraded to the server or enterprise versions of Xen for the usual licensing cost.

In addition to the benefit of having virtualization as an inherent property of the system, the OEM edition will also carry a smaller footprint, Crosby said. Because it can be preconfigured to the hardware, the hypervisor doesn't need to carry any extraneous drivers.

The software also promises to provide future support for migration to the virtualization capabilities in Microsoft Windows Server 2008.

Xen plans on showing off a box running the software at next week's VMworld — but thus far are scant on details. They seem to be satisfied at merely grabbing the title of "market's first embedded hypervisor."

"It's real. It's with our OEM partners," said Crosby. "We haven't announced an OEM customer who has committed, but we do have commitments — we aren't prepared to say who." ®

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