Plans for the xVM Hypervisor

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

Novell and Red Hat have already baked the Xen hypervisor into their shipping products, while Microsoft will release Hyper-V later this year. Sun's solution is the Sun xVM Server. What are your plans for that hypervisor--for example, what platform and hardware will support it?

Previews of the Sun xVM hypervisor are available for download today. Our first commercial release is slated for the second quarter of calendar year 2008, with support for x86 servers from IBM, Dell, HP and Sun. The second release will include an additional distribution targeted at Sun's SPARC servers using CoolThreads technology, such as Niagara and Niagara 2.

In terms of operating systems, we will support Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux and Solaris as guests.

What differentiates xVM Server from the Xen hypervisor and Hyper-V, and how will this benefit customers?

Because Sun xVM Server uses the hypervisor code from the Xen community, we can take advantage of all the optimizations that partners like Intel and AMD make to the code base, as well as the advanced features available in the most recent code, such as live migration. We are also adding a number of advanced operating systems features from Solaris to the control domain, which Xen technology refers to as Dom0. These features-such as dynamic self-healing, advanced I/O virtualization and management, and ZFS-give Sun xVM Server a set of highly unique attributes.

How does the technology you acquired from Innotek fit into Sun's virtualization strategy, and how do you plan to integrate VirtualBox into your current offerings?

VirtualBox is software designed to allow users to run multiple operating systems on top of whatever operating system they currently have installed. Whether they choose Windows, Mac OS X, Linux or Solaris as their default desktop of choice, VirtualBox will ride on top of it and allow them 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 tool kit. VirtualBox will act as the broadly available gateway to the rest of the xVM platform. Developers that build applications have a huge amount of influence on how [the apps are] deployed. We believe that developers using VirtualBox can help guide their friends in the data center toward xVM Server as the preferred deployment engine.

How are you targeting your virtualization message to those businesses and enterprises that already have Windows and Linux in their server environments, and what is the value proposition you are trying to sell them on?

To put it succinctly, choice. Windows and Linux customers can now run their Windows and Linux environments using a totally open-source virtualization solution that will deliver improvements in availability, security and scalability. Sun's new and expanding partnerships with companies like Microsoft, Red Hat, AMD and Intel should help give Windows and Linux customers confidence that Sun is ready to help them in this space.

In particular, our bilateral support agreements for virtualization with Microsoft and Red Hat will ensure customers are completely supported in Windows and Linux environments when running inside Sun xVM.

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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