We all know you can run ESX Server in a VM (you know that, right?). Thomas Bishop already has the ESX Server 3i beta working in Fusion, and Eric Sloof has it going in Server. Thomas also has an interactive shell running at boot. See this forum thread for all the acrobatics, where pbraren and others are contributing. It’s quite a fascinating mix of technical step-by-step investigation and rumination on the significance of 3i and where the hypervisor is going.

Also, the ESX Server 3i session presentation from VMworld is available from us. (hat tip to Mike Laverick, who knew about it before I did. I can tell you that the rest of the VMworld presentation pdfs should be available on the new very soon, and most of the streaming sessions are already available. You must have a conference login to view them for now.)

A bit of commentary as well. J Hicks says in the comments on the last 3i post:

Don’t get me wrong, 3i is a great next step. Avoiding the RH based
service console and the associated patching is fantastic. However, what
really matters is not just the hypervisor itself, but the way its
managed. And 3i = 3, same code, different delivery, same management
(VC). …

Its very interesting to see the corner we’re turning here. Initially
VMware was touting "repurpose the hardware you have" – but now the
hardware vendors are delivering boxes that may only make sense for
virtulized hosts. (not that that’s a bad thing, just something to

And the always-insightful Massimo Re Ferre has an essay on what he sees as the significance of ESX Server 3i — in short, it’s a step forward in the natural evolution of the product, but for now it’s still the ESX Server we know and love.

Link: What (really) VMware ESX 3i is (to me)

So what does this buy you as an end user? Yes me too I think… not so
much. Sure it has a much smaller attack surface for viruses and
security vulnerability that means less updates so less troubles for
system administrators. Also it finally allows to get rid of these
legacy 2 hard disk drives in rack servers and more importantly blades
transforming them in true stateless devices … as they should be. Yet
not really something you would go through the streets of San Francisco
screaming "oh boy what they managed to invent!?!"

In conclusion, I didn’t certainly want to diminish the value that 3i is
bringing into the industry. I am very excited about it because I think
it’s a step towards the right direction. However I think it is
important to clarify some of the rumors and misinformation that have
been circulating and that I am sure will circulate even after the
details are disclosed.

Massimo is worried that an excited sales force will be overhyping 3i as the ultimate hypervisor. I saw a lot of science fictional speculation before the announcement, but the reporting post-announcement has been pretty sober — pointing out the clear advantages in deployment and patch reduction and architectural simplicity, but not proclaiming that we’ve reached the promised land. So don’t worry, Massimo, you can be excited about 3i without overhyping it. You know VMware is not a company given to too much hype — but as kimono says in the discussion thread, 3i is "a seriously hot piece of kit."