Sun xVM Desktop Runs Windows, Solaris, Linux Concurrently

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-09-11

Sun xVM Desktop Runs Windows, Solaris, Linux Concurrently

MENLO PARK, Calif.-When Sun Microsystems, showing off its new Java-based xVM virtual desktop for a group of journalists and analysts Sept. 10, demonstrated an Apple laptop that was running Linux, Solaris and Windows in separate instances on the same screen, people immediately put their coffees down and started taking fervent notes.

What they were seeing for the first time was a single Mac OS X laptop with three other operating systems all on the same screen, in different windows, running their individual applications-all at the same time. 

There seemed to be little or no latency, too. Each OS worked smoothly. These were all lightweight, virtualized instances from faraway servers whose geographic location was irrelevant. The Solaris instance happened to originate in Germany, but it didn't make a shred of difference.

How is this all possible?  Thanks to some cool new data management software called xVM VirtualBox, introduced Sept. 10, it appeared to be easy. The "co-opetition" companies that make these operating systems and their corresponding applications have made peace-ostensibly, anyway-and have decided to bury any digital hatchets left over from the old, partisan days of, well, about two years ago. This new spirit all should have happened long before 2006.

"We introduced Sun's xVM [the 'x' stands for the 'intersection of virtualization and IT'] at OracleWorld last year [2007]," Sun xVM Vice President Steve Wilson told the group. "Since that first v1.0, we have recorded more than 6.5 million downloads.  And v2.0, which we are also announcing today, has much more functionality."

No kidding. The xVM VirtualBox desktop is simple enough "for my grandmother to install and use," Wilson said with a laugh, yet it is able to juggle all the applications noted earlier in this story.

Imagine the benefits this Swiss-army-knife-type hypervisor will bring to software developers, who will now be able to code and test their builds for various OSes-all at the same time! Financial service and Web 2.0 companies, which are always trying to upgrade and rework their applications, will find this interesting, too.

"We imagine that software development will be one of the movers on this," Wilson said.

The open-source xVM package, most of which came to Sun in the February 2008 acquisition of Germany-based Innotech, consists of the Xen-based xVM Server, xVM VDI (virtual desktop), xVM Ops Center 2.0 (management console for all these tools) and surrounding services.

Open Source and Freely Downloadable

The software is all open source and freely downloadable from the Sun Web site. However, there are licensing costs (see below) for various levels of enterprise support and training.

Sun also launched, a new open-source community where developers can download the first source code bundle for xVM Server software, get advice and training, and contribute to the direction and development of the product.

Additional pieces of the Sun xVM virtualization portfolio, including the xVM VirtualBox, are open source and freely available for immediate download.

"With xVM, we're now able to manage everything, from desktops to servers," Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, told the group. "We're doing it with a world-class set of partners, including AMD, CSC [a virtualization consultant], Intel and Microsoft."

Enterprise license pricing is as follows:

  • Sun xVM Server software: $500 per year per physical server.

  • Sun xVM Infrastructure Enterprise Subscription: $2,000 per physical server per year. This subscription is designed to simplify the management of large-scale virtualized environments and includes advanced features, such as management of live migration and of multiple network storage libraries.

  • Sun xVM Infrastructure Datacenter Subscription: $3,000 per server per year. This includes all the features in the Sun xVM Infrastructure Enterprise Subscription in addition to physical server monitoring, management and advanced software life cycle management capabilities.

  • Sun xVM Ops Center: from $100 per managed server up to $350 a year, depending on customer-selected features, along with a required $10,000 Satellite Server annual subscription for Sun xVM Ops Center.

    Attendees will be able to see demos of the xVM portfolio at VMworld in Las Vegas, Sept. 15-19.
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