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November 22, 2007

Oracle goes virtual

Oracle has said that it will now support its products in a virtualized environment. This follows the launch of Oracle VM, a Hypervisor-based virtualization solution that enables customers to run products in the Oracle VM environment fully supported. This is an interesting move designed to bolster Oracle's leading position in applications delivery - and one that reflects growing acceptance of Xen.

By CBR Staff Writer

The Oracle VM offering is based upon version 3.1.1 of the Xen Hypervisor, but according to Oracle, this has been fully tested and bug-fixed so that Oracle’s customers can have confidence that the Xen Hypervisor is robust enough for commercial production use.

Oracle chose the open source Hypervisor because it offered a cost-effective solution; Oracle’s customers can download the Hypervisor free-of-charge, and simply pay Oracle a fixed amount each year for support. Oracle has also stated that its systems management tool, Oracle Enterprise Manager, will be able to provide the complete management capability from the application layer down to the virtual machine layer.

This announcement demonstrates that the open source Hypervisor, Xen, is beginning to gain significant acceptance in commercial markets as a viable alternative to VMware. In fact, the recent Microsoft announcement that Hyper-V – Microsoft’s server virtualization technology within its Windows server 2008 operating system (formally known as Viridian) – and Microsoft Hyper-V Server, a standalone Hypervisor-based server virtualization product that allows customers to virtualize workloads onto a single physical server, will be available in 2008.

These announcements signify that the virtualization market is becoming more competitive, and it will be interesting to see VMware’s response as its dominance in the market is seriously challenged in 2008 and beyond.

The virtualization market in terms of servers is currently all about interoperability and ensuring that the different technologies can work together to support the delivery of a flexible infrastructure. However, the market is currently characterized by three main different approaches – VMware, Xen, and Microsoft – and a number of smaller niche solutions such as SWSoft’s Virtuozzo. However, it is possible that the entrance of new players such as Intel and AMD could disrupt the market even further in the short term, although it is likely that, eventually, the server virtualization market will be characterized by hardware-based Hypervisors, and packaged solutions such as Oracle VM that address customers’ specific issues.

Oracle’s announcement comes as an interesting response to the challenge of how to retain its dominant position in the applications delivery market in the face of the rising tide of virtualization and software as a service. The offering provides one approach to meeting the needs of Oracle’s customers, but a virtualization standard that Oracle could adopt and support its customers on whatever vendor solution they chose would be preferable. However, this is unlikely to become a reality given the current market conditions.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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