Ten days after the much awaited launch of VI3.5 (aka ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5), VMware is ready to release the special version of ESX Server called 3i.
ESX Server 3i completely drops the so called Console Operating System (COS), based on a customized Red Hat Enterprise Linux distro, and appears as a lightweight 32MB liveCD (no need for hard disk installation).
The new architecture is offered today as a parallel version, but VMware clarified in several occasions that this is the future of ESX Server.
The product was originally planned for OEM distribution only, pre-installed inside Solid State Drives (SSD) by Dell, IBM, HP and others popular vendors, but VMware is now offering it as stand-alone download.
Unfortunately the only two servers which are supported in this first release (build 67921) are Dell 2950 and HP DL380 G5 (experimental support).
The amount of features included in stand-alone ESX Server 3i is limited (just the vSMP and the VMFS support, you’ll need VirtualCenter bundles to get more) but the starting price is very interesting: $459 (without support). Any VirtualCenter 2.5 is able to support and manage it.
Download it here.