The origin of the project was born by a French Guy Olivier Crémel
I was quite surprised when I found the info on one of the blogs I’m subscribed via RSS. If you do not know what is RSS and how smart is to use it just follow this link…. You might consider to subscribe to this blog via RSS for Free.
My fellow blogger Raphaël from www.hypervisor.fr took an interview with a french guy working at VMware as a System Engineer. His name is Olivier Crémel. He was at the beginning of the original project of a hypervizor without a COS. The ESX 4 classic with the Red Hat Linux console will be phased out by VMware and the Standard now is ESXi 4.
Here are some parts of the interview, since both of my friends are French and most of you guys don’t speak a word in French…. Maybe “bonjour” or “une bierre”. I saw you guys struggling with the French language at VMworld Cannes… Hey, It’s never too late… I got married to a french girl 10 years ago and we both communicated in English at first since my mother tongue is Czech. I come from Czech Republic….. and speak 3 languages..
Well enough said. I thought that it could interest people to translate into English. So here is the translate of the interview. If there are some errors, feel free to comment…..
Raphaël: How did you became “the father” of ESXi?
I started on the project since 2001 on the bottom layers. The COS presented to me an irritation because the code had to share the material between the COS and the VMkernel. My idea always was to eliminate the COS. In 2003, I became very interested by VDI. One day when I was at the server room and waiting for a n old server to start, I started to imagine what could VDI deployment with a big ample would implicate and I go the idea that the servers should disappear as we see them now. That the servers will become just a center of the calculations with an ESX as a driver, some kind of Super firmware. With this, the COS would become useless.. I decided to start a project with as the target to Integrate the ESX inside a ROM with a BIOS.
I worked on this project as a side project at that time during the 2004. Then 2 others engineers joined me and in September 2004 we have showed the 1st fully functional version to our internal stuff. I gave it a name VMvisor (VMware Hypervisor). And till today there are still some rests of it. For exemple, see what a retourn of “stat -f/” does.
Raphaël: How/why was ESXi born?
Very fast became evident that we will not have enough place in ROM (we had only about 3 to 4 megs and the system was 12 Mb). For the developpement we only used PXE, we concentrated only on that with that as mechanism of external configuration. It meeans that nothing was never installed or persistent on the server. This helped to keep transparency for the servers (they could be added/removed/replaced without installation or configuration). During 2005 and 2006 we faced 2 problems from users: A fear of idea of loosing the COS and big distrust concerning PXE. Finaly we had to find another method.
So the idea of ROM came by…. again. The idea of using small Flash USB included inside of the server was born…. Our target was completely moved away. So instead of large deployment we started to present the solution as a simple key-in-hands solution for one server for Small businesses. Beginning of 2007, with Dell found convinced, we started a commun project. VMware delivered a what Dell will built. A specific server with ESXi included internaly on a Flash card. That what’s we presented at VMworld 2007.
Raphaël: How many persons works on ESXi now?
There is no special team for ESXi now. The majority of the code is identical between ESXi et ESX.
Raphaël: Do you think that one day you’ll sell “ESXi servers” ? (physicals)
Those are the servers sold with ESXi on the USB flash card. We do not sell the servers directly, but our partners do…
Raphaël: ESXi will be available for other platforms than x86/x64..(other than ARM)?
There was an Itanium prototype but without continuation…
Raphaël: ESX is for “Elastic Sky X” ?
Raphaël: What’s the “i” ?
“integrated”, it means included with the machine…It’s a reflect for the first integration in common with DELL.
Raphaël: Is thee are some easter eggs inside ESXi ?
If there is one, it’s been introduced without my knowledge…
Raphaël: If yes, can we know one?
Does the e “Alt-F1, unsupported” counts ?
Raphael:[NDLR] No but the one with F4 to go Black and white yes
Raphaël: Some last thoughts for the readers of Hypervizor.fr ?
The idea of ESXi is quite radical. It means to Kill the idea of server as is. This explains some choises which are sometimes difficult to accept. We continue to seek the just middle. But ESXi is also a very easy a system to be modeled. Nothing is more satisfying that all those messages from the users which downoaded the free version and adopted it like this or like that. I encourage your readers to do the same. Download and Explore.