Parallels to release a type-1 hypervisor with Mac OS X Server VMs

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During its annual Summit (see live coverage here) Parallels announced the upcoming availability of Parallels Server for Mac Bare Metal Edition (PSfMBME ???).

The name is a little confusing: PFfMBME is a type-1 hypervisor which doesn’t need any host operating system to run.
So the “for Mac” in the title just means that this specific version of the product supports Apple Xserve hardware, and thus allows customers to run Mac OS X Server virtual machines.

Parallels offers a version of this hypervisor that supports other enterprise class x86/x64 hardware since October 2009 but of course the Apple EULA prohibits to run Mac OS X Server guest OSes on it.

Both versions share the same engine and so offer the same capabilities:

  • Support for up to 12 vCPUs / 64GB vRAM / 2TB vHDDs  / 16 vNICs / 8 USB 2.0 ports per VM
  • Support for Intel VT-x, VT-d, FlexPriority and EPT
  • Support for AMD-V and RVI
  • Support for 32/64bit guest OSes (including all flavors of Windows, Red Hat, SUSE, Debian and Ubuntu Linux, FreeBSD)
  • templates and snapshots
  • VMs full and incremental backups (Windows and Linux guests only)
  • VMs live migration
  • CPU resource limits, prioritization and disk I/O priority
  • cold Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V) migration between Parallels Servers Bare Metal hosts (VM to VM, or even VM-to-container / container-to-VM) and hot V2V migration (only for containers)
  • cold Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) migration from physical servers to virtual machines or containers
  • a local management console and a Command Line Interface (CLI) for most tasks within a single host
  • support for Parallels Virtual Automation (formerly Parallels Infrastructure Manager) for enterprise management

So far Parallels didn’t disclose when the product will be officially released.

While the capability to compete against VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer in the general x86/x64 market may be questioned (but the company has a strategy), Parallels may have a unique opportunity in the Apple niche.
The growing popularity of iPods, iPhones and soon iPads in fact is pushing more customers to evaluate Mac OS X as their primary environment, and while this interest may never translate into a massive raise of Apple-powered data centers, it may still drive demand for server.-side Mac OS X virtualization.

For example, as soon as hosted VDI will take some real traction, the demand for Apple virtual desktops may be more concrete than the Linux one.
At that point hosting providers will need a high-density / high-performance virtualization platform that doesn’t have the limitations of Parallels Containers.
GoDaddy, one of the biggest firm worldwide, just announced the availability of Mac OS X Server web hosting, and this may push the entire hosting industry to do the same.

At that point Parallels may be the only company providing a viable virtualization platform for server and client consolidation on Xserve hardware.