Sun Microsystems plans to deliver support for the Xen virtualization technology in Solaris 10 by the middle of 2007.
Sun is preparing to release to OpenSolaris sometime in July a snapshot of code that will run on top of Xen and which provides Dom0 (Domain zero) support using Solaris Dom0, which supports 32-bit and 64-bit Linux and Solaris DomUs, said Tim Marsland, Suns CTO of operating platforms, at a media briefing on virtualization at Suns San Francisco offices June 27.
Full support for Xen will then be made available to OpenSolaris within the next four months, and will be extended to the Sun-supported commercial version of Solaris 10 sometime in the first half of next year.
Asked who would provide support for that technology in Solaris 10, Marsland said he anticipated that this would initially be done by both Sun and XenSource, with Sun taking a greater support role as its expertise around this improved. "It is still early and we have not really started talking about that just yet."
Sun offered a number of virtualization technologies for Solaris 10, including support for VMwares products and its own container technology, as it believed customers wanted choice on the virtualization front.
"Customers will be able to mix and match from among these offerings, which encompass both software and hardware virtualization. We need to provide both, as they have different profiles and uses, and the combination of the two is the winning one," Marsland said.
Some 30 percent of its Solaris 10 systems in production are using containers, he said, adding that one-third of these are using Sparc systems, while two-thirds are on x86 hardware.
Sun was also seeing a lot of adoption of the VMware virtualization technology by its Solaris customers, and is working with VMware to make sure its products run on Suns platforms.
With regard to its relationship with XenSource, Marsland said they are working together on a number of initiatives and technologies.
XenSource and Virtual Iron are trying to create a direct open-source competitor to VMwares ESX product, which is unmatched for its ability to work on older hardware, he said, adding that the fact that Sun is working with XenSource has not affected its relationship with VMware in any visible way.
While VMware is seeing competitive pressure from XenSource, Virtual Iron and Microsoft, it faces a challenge in moving up the enterprise stack as its technology precludes it from changing the operating system.
The Windows hypervisor technology would also put pressure on VMware to become more embedded, while the more affordable Xen technology was putting that hardware virtualization firm under pricing pressure, he said.
Asked if Suns approach in this regard was different to that of Microsoft, with its virtual machine software and which is also working on a hypervisor for Windows, he said their approaches are similar as Microsoft is also doing both hardware and software virtualization.
Sun is talking to Microsoft about its hypervisor technology, virtualization and Solaris, among other things, Marsland said.
Chris Ratcliffe, the director of marketing for System Software at Sun, said the company is also looking at virtualizing a10 Gigabit Ethernet, so this could then be shared, as well as how best to virtualize the network so it could also drive 40- and 100-gigabit infrastructures.