By buying Innotek's virtualization software, Sun plans to bolster its own xVM Server offering.
Sun Microsystems' rationale for buying Innotek's VirtualBox virtualization
software and making it available as a free download is simple: Doing so will
attract developers, who hopefully will then steer others to Sun's own xVM
Innotek's VirtualBox software enables users to run multiple operating
systems on top of whatever operating system is currently installed, whether
it's Windows, Mac, Linux or Solaris.
Sun announced xVM Server in October, with the goal of making it the
preferred deployment engine in the data center. If everything goes as planned,
VirtualBox will be a key driver in achieving that goal.
Sun also is banking on its acquisition of the VirtualBox open-source
virtualization software to extend its xVM platform onto the desktop and
make it more competitive in the virtualization space.
The acquisition also will facilitate cross-linkage with Sun's other
developer-related assets, such as NetBeans, Glassfish and MySQL.
"Imagine the virtual software appliances we can create using these
assets, and developers will be able to start using them instantly, making it
way easier to install and configure these things," Steve Wilson, Sun's
vice president for xVM, said in a blog post.
"VirtualBox will ride on top of your
default operating system and allow you to 'host' any arbitrary collection of
operating system instances. Software developers everywhere are starting to
discover this way of operating, and these desktop virtualization solutions are
quickly becoming part of the common developer toolkit."
Click here to read more about Sun's agreement to acquire Innotek.
While there is significant competition in this space, Wilson
said VirtualBox is uniquely positioned to compete with existing software
products that already offer some of this functionality, as it is free and open
source and supports most operating systems.
This competitive edge is underscored by the fact that VirtualBox has been
downloaded more than 4 million times in just over a year, Wilson
While VirtualBox and Sun's own xVM Server product are similar, as both allow
a computer to run multiple operating systems, the difference is that "xVM
Server and VirtualBox are products targeted at radically different markets,"
The xVM Server is competitive with offerings like VMware's ESX Server,
while VirtualBox is more like VMware
Workstation, VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop,
"except, of course, that
VirtualBox supports more host platforms and is open source and free," Wilson
"Sun xVM Server is a bare-metal hypervisor, which installs directly on
the hardware, not on top of an existing operating system. It's a
purpose-built software appliance with functionality to enable server
consolidation and dynamic IT," he said. "It includes high-end data
center features like live VM migration and dynamic self-healing. This is data
center grade virtualization. Along with Sun xVM Ops
Center, xVM Server will become the
engine that drives a dynamic data center."
For its part, VirtualBox is a Type 2 hypervisor: an application that
installs on top of an existing operating system and that supports Windows,
Linux, Mac and Solaris hosts so that it can be used on a laptop no matter which
operating system is chosen as the "native" environment, he said.
"This makes VirtualBox a software developer's dream. You can easily set
up multiple virtual machines to develop and test your multitier or cross-platform
applications, and all on a single box ... I installed it this weekend. The
download was only 17MB and the install[ation] took only minutes. In less
than 15 minutes from when I started the download ... I was ready to start
installing guests," Wilson
said. The agreement to acquire Innotek follows Sun's move in
January to buy the open-source MySQL database.