Could VMware be gearing up to manage hypervisors other than its own ESX hypervisor platform? That's the question being raised by a number of people in the virtualization community after one of their own began blogging about a string of commands found buried in VMware's vSphere 4.1.
At the end of October, William Lam, a systems engineer and VMware vExpert, wrote an interesting blog post about a number of documented and undocumented virtual machine (VMX) configuration parameters found while dissecting a VMware vSphere 4.1 VMX binary that's used to load virtual machine configuration files. Lam found more than 1,200 undocumented VMware VMX parameters.
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What Lam found was a string of code that appears to be able to detect whether the Microsoft Hyper-V or Xen hypervisor is present.
%s: %s detected by CPUID
%s: VMware detected
%s: Xen detected by hypercall
Xen detected but hypervisor unrecognized (Xen variant?)
Lam writes, "I noticed the following strings around detecting certain guest hypervisors, is this a hint that VMware is going to support other virtual 'hypervisors', specifically Microsoft and Xen?"
Dave Bartoletti, a senior analyst at The Taneja Group, doesn't think so. "In my view, these strings don't expose anything interesting," said Bartoletti. "It certainly might be useful for VMware to be able to detect other hypervisors or VM types in a particular environment, for labeling and inventory if nothing else, but it's a leap to extrapolate that to a shift in management direction."