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During the past months I’ve seen some posts and tweets enthusiastic on the a possible introduction of new server’s series based on ARM processor, with some considerations on how they could change the actual scenarios, for example in the virtual infrastructures.

But I have really some doubts in the server scenarios or at least in the virtualization user case: first to all we have to notice that most of the hypervisor are designed for the Intel/AMD server. Actually VMware vSphere (but also Microsoft Hyper-V) is working only with Intel/AMD x64 platform in order to provide only x86 and x64 virtualized platform.

Of course this does not mean that there isn’t any virtualization opportunity with ARM based processor. For example there are some interesting project in the OpenSource world, like the Xen porting. And both VMware and Microsoft have the possibility to build a porting to the ARM processor, but the result will be an hypervisor that can virtualize only ARM platform (virtualization is not emulation, it work like a software partitioning of the existing resources).

So what’s happen with all the existing VMs, all existing applications and services and OSes? Are they ported to an ARM platform? For Linux and most of OpenSource project the answer is yes, but with some effort (all must be recompiled to the new platform). For Windows Server systems actually the answer is no (but in a future could be changed, considering the they already have Windows RT that is a porting of the Windows Client OS to the ARM platform).

But for legacy system the answer is absolutely no! And for now both in SMB and in the Enterprise the legacy is still a big issue and compatibility is not an option.

Of course there are also some other projects to build a virtualized environment for the mobile world (like the VMware Horizon Mobile), but we were talking about the user cases of new ARM based servers.

Virtualization, for now is probably the worst user case, that mean also each type of cloud IaaS solutions (public, private or hybrid), except in some specific cases where you can build virtualized Linux machine. But probably we are considering more a PaaS or SaaS cloud scenario, where those kind of servers make absolutely sense and could become an alternative of Intel/AMD system.


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.