VMware Inc. hopes to make virtualization software as common in data centers as ketchup is on hamburgers, via a “thin hypervisor” that IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. all plan to embed in their x86 servers.

Building VMware’s new ESX Server 3i into systems should make it easier to set up virtual servers, said Joe Whorton, a software engineer at a financial services firm that he asked not be named. Systems could just be “stacked and racked,” he said at VMware’s user conference in San Francisco.

But Thomas Andersson, infrastructure director at steel maker SSAB Svenskt Stal AB in Stockholm, said that although hardware vendors include many features in their systems, “few of them are actually used.”

XenSource Inc. also announced an embedded hypervisor this month, but no server vendors have publicly committed to use it thus far.

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