Wednesday, November 27, 2013

VMware ESXi Design

The ESXi hypervisor shares many common elements with its older big brother ESX classic, but the main differentiator is that the Linux-based Service Console was stripped out. ESXi retains VMkernel and VMM components similar to ESX but has additional features built into the VMkernel; a new, much smaller management console; and other user-mode processes to replace the old Service Console OS functionality.

ESXi was redesigned this way to allow VMware users to scale out through a hypervisor
that is more akin to a hardware appliance. The vision was a base OS that is capable of autoconfiguring, receiving its settings remotely, and running from memory without disks. But it’s also an OS that’s flexible enough to be installed on hard disks along with a locally saved state and user-defined settings for smaller, ready-to-use installations that don’t require additional infrastructure.

Removing the Service Console obviously had an impact. A number of services and agents
that were normally installed had to be rethought. The familiar command-line interface with its
access to management, troubleshooting, and confi guration tools is replaced in ESXi. And the
Linux-styled third-party agents for backups, hardware monitoring, and the like must be provisioned in different ways.

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