Quick Take: Oracle, Sun and Virtual Iron Redux

July 6, 2009

In May, 2009, we presented a Quick Take on the acquisition of Virtual Iron – a company that developed and delivered Xen manager to alternative to Citrix. While Oracle has officially killed the “product” that was Virtual Iron, it has released a roadmap to its incorporation into Oracle’s own OracleVM product: a virtualization platform targeted at enterprises using Oracle products and offered for free (via support model.)

What does this mean for Virtual Iron subscribers? Last month, Oracle stopped providing new licenses for Virtual Iron and released Oracle VM 2.1.5, but Virtual Iron represented less that 1% of the virtualization market. According to Oracle’s Virtual Iron employees (reportedly about 15 in total) are expected to continue with the company – perhaps to shore-up Oracle’s VM Management Pack with the addition of Virtual Iron’ expertise.

While it is unclear when Virtual Iron additions will show-up in Oracle VM, it is clear that customers relying on Virtual Iron will either migrate to an improved Oracle VM or switch vendors altogether. It is also clear that with better virtualization management on the horizon for Oracle VM, Oracle will entrench itself behind Oracle VM for support of Oracle applications in virtual environments. While this makes sense, given the “free” status of Oracle VM and its close ties to Oracle support, it limits enterprise deployment options and cloud-based strategies for Oracle products.

SOLORI’s take: What does this mean for the rest of the market? Oracle’s acquisition or Sun and Virtual Iron show that chosing a virtualization suite from smaller players can be risky. Unless your solution is delivered by the open source leader, the enterprise virtualization leader or “embedded” in the leading server operating system, your solution is at risk in any future technology acquisition. Likewise, Oracle’s position clearly demonstrates a closed eco-system of applications and support: eschewing the general purpose hypervisor suite for a tailor-made application stack for Oracle-only products.

In our original Quick Take on the subject, we predicted that Oracle’s would concentrate on its self-sufficiency needs and show little interest in the “forward thinking” applications of VI-Center’s encorporation of Hyper-V and KVM. With the removal of Virtual Iron and Sun xVM from the market, the likelihood of a new virtualization technology hitting the market is about 0%. In 12 months time, we expect to see only three players in enterprise virtualization: VMware, Microsoft and Red Hat.

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