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Sun Bids $2 Billion To Join Virtualization Gold Rush

The company will commit R&D dollars to its Xen-based hypervisor -- xVM -- for generating virtual machines and its Sun xVM Ops Center for managing them.

Following close on Oracle's heels, Sun Microsystems on Wednesday announced that it will offer a Xen-based hypervisor -- xVM -- for generating virtual machines and Sun xVM Ops Center for managing them.

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz in a keynote address during the third day of Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco said it made sense for Sun to jump into virtualization because its system expertise. It already offers Containers under Solaris on its UltraSparc hardware. Neutral systems management was a suitable follow up role since xVM will be able to host Linux, Windows, or Solaris as guest operating systems or all three at once on the same physical server.

The xVM hypervisor can make use of key characteristics of the Solaris 10 operating system, such as its ZFS, 128-bit file system, which increases the amount of address space that can be included in a virtual storage system.

"Windows can suddenly realize the virtues of ZFS... We can graft in some of the differentiating qualities of Solaris into the guest operating system," said Rich Green, executive VP of software at Sun. Virtual machines run with a guest operating system -- in this case, either Linux, Windows or Solaris -- managed by a hypervisor, which passes their requests for processing to the hardware.

Schwartz said Sun is committing $2 billion in R&D to build its xVM product line for managing mixed environments. "Customers tell us the last thing they want is a proprietary vendor at the core of their next generation datacenter architectures," Schwartz said, in a jab at virtualization market leader VMware, which offers the ESX hypervisor and Virtual Infrastructure 3 management software.

Both Sun virtualization products are available as open source and available for free download on a new Sun-sponsored Web site, He said Sun will provide support contracts for those wanting commercial support.

Oracle jumped into virtualization as well this week as it introduced Oracle VM Monday, also based on open source Xen.

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