The Big Picture

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-04-24 Print this article Print

Microsoft is embracing virtualization across its product line and is working hard on offering heterogeneous tools to manage everything. Novell, IBM and others all claim to be doing the same thing. How does your xVM Ops Center tool play into this competitive environment, and what distinguishes it?

Sun xVM Ops Center is a full data center automation tool built to handle physical and virtual environments. It works at very large scale and is designed to support thousands of individual servers-both physical and virtual. Sun xVM Ops Center automates time-consuming system administration activities, such as firmware updating, bare metal operating system provisioning, and patching and updating.

Sun xVM Ops Center is also completely open source, which is really attractive to our partner ecosystem. We're getting a lot of interest from systems integrators and [VARs] who want to add their services on top of the platform.

Does Sun have a bigger-picture plan for cross-platform virtualization management?

You bet. Sun's vision for the dynamic data center goes well beyond simple server consolidation. While xVM Ops Center's initial focus will be to manage compute resources and virtualization, it will quickly expand to also manage storage and network resources.

Who do you consider your biggest competitors in the virtualization and virtualization management tools space, and why?

In terms of mind share, VMware certainly has the lead. We compete and partner with VMware-"coopetition" at its best. We've been working with VMware since 2005, ensuring that VMware products run well on our Sun servers and Sun storage. Part of that agreement made the Solaris operating system a premier guest on [VMware's] virtualization platform.

While VMware has made virtualization top of mind, customers are very interested in Sun's unique approach to virtualization. We're leveraging Sun's heritage in developing enterprise-grade solutions to deliver that same enterprise-class functionality, availability, security and scale in Sun xVM.

Additionally, our hypervisor and management tools are completely open. You may have heard [Sun Chairman and co-founder] Scott McNealy mention "lower barrier to entry" and "low barrier to exit." Big enterprise customers are really interested in avoiding vendor lock-in with proprietary software these days.

You recently announced a reseller agreement with VMware. How does this partnership benefit Sun?

Sun is committed to customer choice and interoperability, whether that's choice of operating system, choice of processors or choice of virtualization software. In the same way that we offer Solaris, Linux and Windows operating systems to our customers, Sun will also provide a range of virtualization offerings, including VMware's products and our Sun xVM products. This partnership provides another option for our customers and helps to expand Sun's solutions in the x64 space.

Microsoft has positioned its virtualization strategy as running all the way from the desktop to the data center, which resonates well with customers. Yours appears to be a lot less broad and inclusive. Is that the case, and how do you compete with the Microsoft vision?

We believe virtualization will transform the data center in many ways beyond just server virtualization. Storage is the next major resource that needs to be virtualized to build a truly dynamic data center, where resources can be rapidly redeployed to meet demand. Sun brings unique solutions in this area that combine software and hardware. The Sun Fire x4600 storage server is the first step for us.

We also believe that desktop virtualization is turning into an increasingly important trend. Sun has long been selling its Sun Ray thin-client virtualization solution, but more recently we've dramatically expanded our offerings around Windows desktop virtualization with Sun's Secure Global Desktop technology and a full Virtual Desktop Infrastructure stack. Now we're expanding Sun xVM to the developer desktop, with our announcement that we've agreed to acquire Innotek, the provider of the open-source virtualization software called VirtualBox.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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