The Big Picture
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.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.
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.