Sun Pushes Virtualization

After a period of relative quiet in the area of virtualization, the company now has a three-pronged plan of attack.

While competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM have talked up their virtualization offerings over the past few years, Sun Microsystems officials have been less vocal about their own. Thats about to change, said Pradeep Parmar, x64 product line business driver for Sun.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company on Oct. 17 will unveil a multipronged virtualization push that touches on multiple parts of its business, from its UltraSPARC T1 systems to Opteron-based servers to services, with Solaris being the common thread tying it all together.

Suns message is that virtualization options are growing and becoming easier to use on its x86 and SPARC lines. In addition, help is available from Sun for customers looking to deploy virtualized environments.

On the commodity side, Sun will unveil upgraded "Galaxy" servers, which run on Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors. Powering the Sun Fire X4000 series will be the latest Opterons, which include AMDs on-chip virtualization technology. Sun also will announce extended support for VMwares ESX Server 3.0.1 virtualization software on the Sun Fire X4600 and Sun Blade systems.

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Sun also will introduce hardware-based virtualization technology for its Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers, powered by the companys multicore UltraSPARC T1 chip. Suns LDoms logical-domain technology will enable customers to run as many as 32 guest operating systems on a single physical system.

When combined with Suns Solaris Containers application virtualization technology, LDoms will help customers reduce their server footprint while improving utilization and data center power efficiency, said Larry Wake, group manager for Solaris operating system marketing at Sun.

In addition, Sun next year will offer support for the Xen open-source hypervisor in Solaris 10 and Linux support with Solaris Containers, Wake said. Each is currently supported in the OpenSolaris project, he said.

Wake said that bringing Xen support to the commercial Solaris product will give Sun an edge in the growing open-source virtualization space. Currently, both Red Hat and Novells SUSE Linux unit have brought or are bringing Xen support into their latest Linux operating systems.

Joyent, a 2-year-old San Anselmo, Calif., company that offers on-demand applications and tools, has been growing the Sun presence in its three data centers at the expense of Dell equipment, in large part because of the combination of Suns virtualization capabilities and Solaris.

"[Solaris is] mature, [and] its been around a long time," said Joyent CEO David Young, adding that his company relies on the OpenSolaris operating system. "It can scale up to many, many processors with many, many cores."

Sun is offering help in planning and deploying virtualized environments. The company is sponsoring free two-day workshops to customers and is creating a Life Cycle Services for Virtualization business that includes consulting, education and support.

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