Sun Microsystems released an upgrade of its VirtualBox virtualization software to allow users to move running virtual machines from one host to another without interruption.
With VirtualBox 3.1, users can move active VMs between different operating systems, classes of computers, such as servers and clients; and different CPUs, such as chips made by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. The latest software is available at no charge through Sun's Web site.
The new capability will lessen the amount of downtime during maintenance of IT systems, according to Sun. When physical hardware needs to be taken down, the virtual workload can be moved to another host.
"As a cross-platform hypervisor, VirtualBox allows customers to easily evaluate and deploy virtualized systems, using their existing x86 hardware, operating systems and skill sets," Jim McHugh, VP of data center software marketing at Sun, said in a statement released Monday.
Along with more flexibility in handling VMs, VirtualBox 3.1 delivers a 30% performance boost over the previous version of the software. The upgrade also has new features to help system administrators move a VM back or forward in time to any arbitrary snapshot state.
VirtualBox is open source software downloaded more than 20 million times since its release in 2007, according to Sun. The hypervisor is free for personal use. For wider deployments within an organization, Sun offers licenses or subscriptions starting at $30 per user per year, including technical support. Sun also offers a licensing program for vendors that want to redistribute VirtualBox in their own products.
VirtualBox is often used on PCs and workstations to create an environment in which to develop an application. The software works with Windows, Linux, Apple's OS X, Solaris, or OpenSolaris, making it a flexible development environment. An application developed under VirtualBox can be packaged with an operating system, then shipped out to run in the data center on a server, or shipped elsewhere to another data center or external cloud.
InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).