Sun Expands Virtualization Portfolio, Partners with Microsoft

MENLO PARK, CALIF. -- Sun Microsystems today launched the latest salvo in the virtualization wars with the release of new and upgraded tools and services around its xVM technology.

Its newest offering, the Sun xVM Server 1.0, is the company's first hypervisor for data centers. The company also announced the 2.0 version of its Ops Center management software, as well as plans to provide Mac OS support in the next version of its xVM VirtualBox desktop hypervisor.

Speaking to reporters and analysts gathered at Sun's Menlo Park, Calif. facility for the launch, Sun's Executive Vice President of software, Rich Green, characterized virtualization as the much needed wedge between hardware and software that will solve the growing software complexity problem and provide a "uniform architecture going forward."

"In today's virtualization market, consolidation is just the first step in moving toward a dynamic data center built on open, standards-based solutions," Green said. "The Sun xVM portfolio was built to manage Internet-scale infrastructure and complexity with unmatched performance and ease of use."

Based on the open-source Xen hypervisor, the free xVM Server software runs on Sun's SPARC platform, but also x86; it's designed to work with Sun's Solaris OS, but also with Windows, Unix and Linux. The software comes with an embedded Web server for remote management through a browser.

The Vice President of Sun's virtualization program, Steve Wilson, was on-hand to demo the new product on a variety of browsers and operating systems. He claimed that one Sun customer had virtualized 50,000 server cores with the product.

What would become the first component of Sun's virtualization portfolio, Ops Center, was first announced last December as a datacenter automation tool. The latest version is designed to provide an integrated and simplified management of infrastructure, the company said. New features include the ability to manage virtual guest machines as well as physical servers, plus improvements that make it easier for users to manage thousands of geographically distributed systems simultaneously, the company said.

Both Ops Center and xVM Server are available under version 3 of the GNU Public License (GPLv3).

The company also launched a new open source developer community,, which will provide downloadable source code and a place to contribute to the open source projects. VirtualBox is also open source and freely available for download from the site.

Green extolled the virtues of its partner relationships in the virtualization space, which includes Microsoft. He was joined briefly by Microsoft's General Manager of Virtualization Mike Neil, who declared, "Microsoft and Sun share the same vision of virtualization from the desktop to the cloud." Sun recently became a member of Microsoft's server certification program; the certification ensures that Sun's xVM products will integrate and interoperate with Microsoft's offerings.

In a post press-conference interview, Neil told this site that that shared vision included a conviction that that virtualization will become ubiquitous across the data center and even the desktop.

"We're in a unique situation," he said. "The fact that both Microsoft and Sun are operating system vendors allows us to work together to bring a new capability to the customer. The customer is living in a different environment today. In the past he would have bought a machine with a Sun operating system or one with a Windows OS. With virtualization, you have the opportunity to run those disparate systems on one piece of hardware. And both companies believe that management of that capability needs to go from the physical layer to the virtual machines and the applications. Where we're all headed in the future is the cloud."

Sun, the inveterate sloganeer responsible for "Write Once, Run Anywhere" and "the Network is the Computer," offered a new buzz phrase: "Virtualize Everything, Manage Anywhere."

On the eve of VMware's VMworld Conference in Las Vegas, the virtualization announcements are coming fast and furious. Microsoft just held the first of its "Get Virtual Now" event series a few days ago. A month ago, Oracle launched its VM Template virtual machines for Oracle apps and Linux., which manages the open-source Xen hypervisor project on which xVM is based, announced the 3.3 version last month. Linux distro Red Hat just acquired a virtualization company (Qumranet) with technology based on another open source hypervisor (KVM). And Hewlett-Packard is expected to make new products at the upcoming VMworld conference.

"VMware is in a tough situation," Neil said, "because they're not an operating system provider. All the operating system providers -- Red Hat, Novell, Sun, Microsoft -- are providing virtualization solutions as part of their offerings. There's no real magic here; everyone is going to have that capability."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].