An Overview of VMware ESX Server Architecture

An Overview of VMware ESX Server Architecture

VMware Server Architecture

ESX server is a virtualization platform, and a flagship enterprise by VMware. Usually, this is available in two versions – ESXi server and ESX server.  Basically ESX server is an enterprise level virtualization tool. It makes use of different services which manage multiple virtual machines. Usually, these machines have greater efficiency and reliability, as compared to the basic Server products, offered by VMware. The reason why this server ensures top-notch performance is that it runs on bare metal. This means that the user can install the software of the ESX server directly to his computer. There is no need of an additional operating system that will make it run.

The basic system on which the ESX server has been designed is controlled by VMkernel. This is a microkernel based on the Linux kernel and it saves the valuable resources. This eliminates the need of running an underlying operating system just beneath the virtual machines. After the setup is complete, the resources are divided from the hardcore physical hardware and generates numerous copies of the virtual hardware so that the virtual machines can use those.

VMkernel ensures all the processes can be run smoothly on the system itself, including the virtual machines, agents and management applications. In fact, it can control all the hardware devices, based on the server and it can also manage the resources for the applications. The main processes that run on VMkernel, include –

  • Virtual machine monitor – This ensures the process of providing the execution environment for a virtual machine. It also initiates a process called VMX. Each virtual machine that is in running condition has its own VMX as well as VMM process.
  • Direct Console User Interface or DCUI – This is a low level management and configuration interface. This component is accessible right through the console of the server. However, this component is primarily used for some basic level configuration that are usually done in the initial phase.
  • CIM system – The Common Information Model or CIM is an interface which enables one to control the hardware-level management even from the remote applications through a set of standardized APIs.
  • Various agents – These components are usually used for enabling one to control the high-end VMware infrastructure even from remote applications.

ESX Server VMkernel ProcessOne of the greatest features of the ESX server is that it has the capacity to overcommit the capability to memorize. This refers to the fact that the total memory of the virtual machine can easily exceed the original physical memory capacity of the server. This ensures better utilization of memory in the servers. All these procedures are controlled by the service console. In fact, this console acts as the management software for the ESX server as well as its operating system.

ESX server architecture has been designed in an innovative way so that it can be operated from a general operating system that offers increased reliability, simplified management and better security. The architecture has been designed in a compact fashion so that it can be directly integrated to a server hardware that is virtually optimized. This is important since this enables smooth deployment, hassle free configuration and quick installation.

Basically, ESX server is a virtualization layer which abstracts the memory, networking resources, storage and the processor of a physical server into a number of virtual machines. These machines run in a parallel fashion, in an isolated and secured way. A particular copy of the ESX server runs on each physical x86 machine. Basically ESX server communicates with some of the other resources through the Host Agent. While doing this, the server makes use of the VMware infrastructure API or VI API. Using this specific infrastructure, both third party software as well as VMware can gather information from the VI API.

Who should use ESX server?

  • The ESX server is basically designed for companies that require to streamline the hardware server to a great extent. This server is also used for performing instant deployment of new servers. In fact, this server is also used for maintaining the existing servers that are in use. This helps ensure zero downtime.
  • One of the most interesting usages of ESX server is for disaster recovery. Since the ESX server is dependent on hardware, the operating systems and the applications that run on this server can be ported instantly. Since the hardware and the virtual specifications of this server are uniform in nature, this ensures smooth maintenance and deployment. This also makes the process of managing virtual machines from remote locations absolutely hassle free.

In order to run the essential processor instructors perfectly, ESX server needs some special CPU hardware from AMD or Intel. You will also need a consistent storage solution so that you can store all the information on the virtual machines as well as the virtual hard disks of those machines.

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