The Virtualization Battle: News from Sun, Novell and Microsoft - and Red Hat joins in

Sep 11, 2008

The battle in the virtualization market enters a new phase: Sun Microsystems released new versions of its virtualization software Sun xVM. And a few days ago Red Hat announced its takeover of Qumranet, makers of the virtualizer KVM. Meanwhile Microsoft and Novell are teaming up to counter with their own Microsoft Hyper-V and Suse Linux Enterprise Server offerings.

Today Sun Microsystems issued a new version of its server virtualizer Sun xVM along with its accompanying management solution xVM Ops Center 2.0. At the same time, the company wants to create a new open source community through its xVMserver.org developer hub. This announcement follows just days after Sun announced their desktop virtualizer xVM VirtualBox 2.0. The software hails from its acquisition in early 2008 of Innotek. Through its new community platform, the company seeks to attract more developers in a collaborative effort. Sun xVM VirtualBox and Ops Center are open source and free for downloading from www.openxvm.org. Sun is targeting its virtualization portfolio for the x86 and Sparc platforms along with Windows, Linux and Solaris. And this is currently a hotly contested market.

The same day as the Sun press release, Microsoft and Novell issued a joint announcement: the two companies want to sell a combined Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and Microsoft virtualizer Hyper-V. To add to this, Dell wants to test and evaluate the solution, having joined the team back in May. Although content wise this announcement offered nothing new, the partners issued an additional announcement at the end of August that restated their collaboration in even stronger terms. Even on this occasion they continued to stress openly their cooperation in the virtualization market. In June, Novell joined Microsoft's certification program, and the theme is still at the top of the daily agenda at their joint research center. This news is certainly interesting in light of a new Linux offering: less than a week ago Red Hat announced its buy-out of virtualization vendor Qumranet.

By acquiring Qumranet, Red Hat integrates its Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) with Solid ICE. KVM has already been part of the Linux kernel for over two years and therefore, in the Linux vendor's view, offers a unique competitive edge in hardware offerings and development times. As Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst asserts in his press conference, this puts his company at eye level with Microsoft. Here again it seeks to clarify its target market: according to Red Hat's concept, it wants to virtualize both Windows and Linux servers and desktops, and this under Red Hat infrastructure management.

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