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Four years ago I’ve written a post about the Virtualization with ARM based servers when some vendors announce the possibility to have new server’s series based on the ARM processor.

Now seems that there are more than rumors with the announce, during the latest VMworld US 2018, of VMware vSphere for ARM. To be honest, not exactly vSphere, but just ESXi… anyway an interesting announce.

But to be clear, limited to embedded and edge IoT systems, so not like a general purpose solution for ARM servers.

VMware demonstrated ESXi on 64-bit ARM running on ARM hardware built to common industry standards; note that VMware demonstrates not just virtualization, but also resilient operations and ease of management at the Edge, via FT-protected 64-bit Arm VMs and vMotion in a high-availability DRS cluster…

Seems that VMware sees an opportunity to work with selected embedded OEMs to the scope and explore opportunities for focused, ARM-enabled offering at the edge.

But can make sense?

If we think about the specific use cases (embedded and edge IoT systems) the answer could be maybe yes. It’s a specific field and has this opportunity could be interesting.

For the general purpose server the answer actually it’s not. So what’s happening 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 projects, 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 for Windows Server 2016, 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 (Windows 10 IoT already exist for ARM and the new Windows Server 2019, actually in Technical Preview, will cover also this platform).

But also having an OS for ARM, does not mean that the Intel application will work on ARM… so another layer of porting. And we are very far to have multi-platform applications, at least for non cloud-native applications.

But also we are very far to have good ARM based servers or good portfolio solutions. There are some servers on this platform (HPE was one of the first with the Monshoot platform), but still too limited. And most of the ARM board are actually for IoT or for small embedded systems.

Will we able to install ESXi on this baby?

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Not sure that will be possible: VMware has announced this solution for selected OEM partners, so seems really a solution that will be available as an embedded pre-packaged box. But let’s see, maybe in the future, there can also appear a Flings version or a free hypervisor.

Anyway it’s a pity that VMware is still removing old processor for recent vSphere released when those kinds of processor still have a good performance level (at least at core level, but of course they have a limited number of cores), and on the other side they are trying to run ESXi for a small platform like Raspberry Pi. Why don’t rethink the ESXi and propose again also some old CPU that in the reality are not so old and not necessary obsolete?

See also: ESXi on Arm? Yes, ESXi on Arm. VMware teases bare-metal hypervisor for 64-bit Arm servers