VMware Accelerates Cloud with Free ESX
The new CEO of VMware, Paul Maritz, seems to be committed to establishing VMware technology as the basis for emerging compute cloud offerings that enable shared, scalable infrastructure as a service via hypervisor virtualization. With Amazon EC2, the poster child for the successful compute cloud offering, being based upon the competing Xen technology from Citrix, Maritz is losing no time staking claim to other potential providers by meeting the Xen price requirement – zero, zilch, nada, zip. I love it. Low cost drives adoption, and free is as good as it gets when it comes to low cost and adoption.
As the economics of servers tilt more and more toward larger systems with multi-core CPUs, the hypervisor is going to become a requirement for getting value from the newer, larger systems. Developers simply do not write code that scales effectively across lots of CPUs on a single system. The coding trend is toward service oriented architectures that enable functions as small, atomic applications running on one or two CPUs, with multiple units deployed to achieve scalability. Couple the bigger server trend with the SOA trend with the virtualization trend with the cloud trend, and you have a pretty big set of table stakes that VMware does not want to miss. If a hypervisor is a requirement, why not use VMware's hypervisor if it is free?
The only challenge with free in the case of VMware is going to be lack of freedom. Xen currently offers both free price and freedom because of its open source heritage. If I run into a problem with VMware's ESX, my only recourse is to depend on the good will of VMware to fix problems. With Xen, I have the option of fixing my own problem if I am so inclined and capable. It will be interesting to watch the hypervisor choices people make as they build their cloud infrastructures, both internally and for commercial consumption, based upon the successful Amazon EC2 architecture.