At the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco this week, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz announced Sun's commitment of nearly $2 billion to the launch of a new open-source virtualization platform.
"The conceptual view that we have going forward is that it's hard to imagine a data center -- or the majority of any data center -- that won't be operating in a virtualized mode over the next three or five to seven years," in effect becoming "the default for building out any interesting I.T. services," Schwartz said.
What Sun intends to do, Schwartz explained, is to move virtualization beyond simple server consolidation to "encompass all data center assets, from the network and storage, to applications and hardware provisioning, while eliminating the risk of proprietary dependency."
First Down the Chute
During the OpenWorld conference, Sun unveiled its first products for enabling virtualized data centers to run on x86/64 and Sparc systems from hardware vendors such as Dell, Fujitsu, HP, and IBM. The company's xVM hypervisor is a lightweight kernel that inherits virtualization technologies from Solaris while supporting Linux, Windows, and Solaris as guests, Schwartz explained.
Along with creating xVM, Sun has developed a scalable data center automation tool called xVM Ops Center. "Managing the complexity that virtualization is going to create as a build-out in scale of forward-looking data centers is every bit as important" as the hypervisor itself, Schwartz noted.
To help spur the technology's adoption, Sun is launching a new community for developers building data center virtualization and management technologies. Sun intends to provide support agreements for a fee so that customers making deployments will have someone to call -- "the standard business model that we use with all of our technologies," Schwartz said. "There are some enterprises in the world for which a free, unsupported product is not an option because the cost of downtime to them dwarfs the cost of a support relationship," Schwartz explained.
AMD, Intel, Red Hat, and Symantec all have announced their support for Sun's new virtualization effort. For example, Red Hat and Sun will be collaborating to certify and support Red Hat Enterprise Linux as a guest on Sun xVM and to certify and support Solaris as a guest on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Collaboration with Dell
Also at the conference, Sun and Dell announced a new cooperative effort under which the two companies will be promoting the distribution of Sun's Solaris OS on Dell's PowerEdge servers. "Collectively, our customers have actually crossed paths quite a bit historically and this is just a case where it made sense for us to work together to deliver the software on Dell boxes, going forward, in a more formal fashion than we have in the past," said Dell CEO Michael Dell.
"What we saw was about a third of the Solaris instances that were distributed in the marketplace were running on Dell," Schwartz noted. "The relationship gives Dell broader reach into the global free software community with Solaris and OpenSolaris and gives Sun access to channels and customers across the volume marketplace," he explained.
Under their new agreement, Dell will make the Solaris OS and related support services available directly to customers buying selected PowerEdge servers. In addition, the two companies will be "making joint investments to build new solutions for customers, working to expand the already large Solaris ISV community for Dell systems, as well as broadly working together to build new business," Schwartz wrote in his blog.