OPENWORLD: Sun joins virtualization fray with xVM

Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz unveiled the company's virtualization product line, xVM, at Oracle's OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

XVM consists of two components: xVM Server, a hypervisor with support for Linux, Solaris and Windows guest operating systems; and xVM Ops Center, a management console. The Ops Center project will be released under the open source GPLv3 license, and Sun has set up a community site at www.openxVM.org.

"Our engagement with the community is not something we take lightly," Schwartz said. "It is in every way the foundation of our company."

The news comes just days after Oracle unveiled its own virtualization product, Oracle VM, which like xVM Server, is based on the open source Xen hypervisor project. Both companies join a crowded market dominated by leader VMWare.

Sun said it intends to put $2 billion behind its vXM push. Ops Center, which is expected to be available next month, has already been validated to run on 1,000 system configurations, according to Sun.

Sun's vice president of software, Rich Green, took the stage to discuss xVM's features in greater depth. He said the industry-wide drive toward virtualizing data centers has resulted in new challenges. "You have these consolidated systems where headroom has been dramatically reduced," he said. "That's a byproduct of server consolidation."

Enterprises with heavily virtualized environments are also dealing with "server sprawl," according to Green. "You have this sprawling nature of things to manage, a complexity greater than what you had before," he said.

He characterized Ops Center as "a complete suite of data center automation technology" with an interface easy for less-skilled users to work with. "Not everyone is a hardcore UNIX admin," said Sun's Steve Wilson, who demoed Ops Center for the crowd.

XVM Server can be used to host all three major operating systems: Windows, Solaris and Linux. It also will provide access to features like ZFS and Predictive Self-Healing.

Sun said a broad array of companies has endorsed xVM, including AMD, Intel, mySQL, Symantec, Quest Software and Red Hat.

Also Wednesday, Dell CEO Michael Dell joined Schwartz onstage to announce the company has agreed to a deal to distribute Sun's Solaris 10 operating system on its PowerEdge servers. "I'd like to believe Dell is going to have a much different conversation now with the Solaris installed base," Schwartz said.

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