Xen Hypervisor Community Embraces ARM Processors

Mike Vizard
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Low-energy servers based on new classes of processors from ARM and Intel are still being beta tested within most organizations. But it stands to reason that just like any other class of server, IT organizations will be looking to get as much utilization out of them as possible.

With that issue in mind, the Xen Project community, a Collaborative Project hosted at The Linux Foundation, today announced the availability of Xen Project Hypervisor version 4.4 with enhanced ARM support.

In addition to improving the performance and scalability of Xen, Mark Hinkle, member of the Xen Project advisory board, says this marks the first time that a hypervisor has been made available for ARM processors. Most notably, both Dell and HP have developed low-energy servers based on ARM processors. But the significance of those servers goes well beyond how energy efficient they are. Servers based on this class of processor make larger amounts of memory available, which is optimal for most Big Data applications.

While VMware currently dominates most enterprise IT environments, Hinkle says once organizations begin making a simultaneous shift to low-energy servers and the emerging OpenStack cloud management framework, it’s likely that many of them will reconsider their hypervisor options.

In the meantime, Hinkle says that cloud service providers that have traditionally been the primary users of Xen will be among the first to adopt low-energy servers. In addition, Hinkle notes that ARM processors are playing a big role in the development of mobile computing and the embedded processors used to drive the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon.

Xen may have not taken enterprise IT by storm, but it is a critical component of most cloud services because as open source software, it doesn’t require cloud service providers to pay licensing fees. The question facing enterprise IT organizations is to what degree managing private clouds of their own is going to push them in the same direction.



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