ESX Lite?

Alex Barrett over at has written about VMware’s “ESX Lite,” an unannounced product so far.

My take: very interesting. The default ESX install creates about 8 GB of partitions on a host. Of that 8 GB, only about 4 GB are used, the rest being overflow for logs, etc. Even 8 GB is well within the reach of a flash drive.

So you have an ESX server that doesn’t need local disk. That saves you $300 for a RAID controller and about $300 per 15K RPM 146 GB disk. For my RAID 1 + hot spare configurations that’s $1200. No moving parts equals theoretical better reliability, though flash drives have a limit to the number of read/write operations they can do over their lifetime. Also very little power consumption, and very little heat. Without all the extra heat from the disks you can reduce the number of fans in the chassis, which further reduces the price and power draw.

As for better security, the Linux installation supporting the hypervisor is a continuing source of problems. VMware has to dedicate resources to patching it. IT folks need to spend time securing it. Patching is somewhat clumsy. The command line interface is completely foreign to a lot of would-be ESX admins (mainly Windows folks). It’s just like a real Linux box in a lot of ways, where it could be so much more like an appliance.

How do you configure these things, then? Maybe they’ll pick their configuration information up from a central server. Maybe it will be an option passed by a DHCP server. Maybe, just maybe, my wish of a central configuration repository for ESX servers will come true. You boot the hardware, it uses PXE and/or DHCP to pull a working boot image down, then configures itself to match the rest of the cluster. You’d patch by updating the boot image and rebooting the host.

This is all rampant speculation, but even if it gets me out of spending an extra $1200 a server I’ll be happy. 🙂 I just hope the final product isn’t limited to blade servers, though that is an obvious place for this technology.

Oh, and attempting to install ESX on a USB flash drive is totally on my to-do list now. 🙂

5 thoughts on “ESX Lite?”

  1. Can you talk a little or at least give me a few pointers on why you (and a lot of other people I hear thesedays) like virtualization and how it is used in a server implementation?

    I mean I am not an expert, but the only good thing I see with virtualization is being able to run Windows and Linux at the same time. Other than that everything else can be done with chroot jails on Linux and it should be much faster as well.

    So how can that worth the efforts especially on a server where performance is important.

    Guess I have to do a little bit of Googling…

  2. That would be awesome. I found a few things online but still need a short description from someone actually using that rather than bloated articles in magazines.
    (Btw, I liked the old design better 😉 )

  3. Heh, just changed it. The old theme didn’t do blockquote and code tags right. I also wanted to switch wholesale to widgets, and re-experiment with ads. So I’m trying this new one. We’ll see. I’m not sure I like it yet, either. The comments interface needs some work yet, for example.

Comments are closed.