Oracle Updates Its VM, Targets VMware

In launching version 3.0 of its virtual machine, Oracle is making some bold claims: that it scales up about four times better than VMware does, delivers all the storage-management features that VMware offers and costs less to boot.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - You know Oracle's getting serious about competing in an uphill battle with a dominant market leader when it starts claiming its products are lower-priced. Oracle, as the largest enterprise database vendor in the world, has always been known as a premium-pricing-type company.

The market in this case is virtualization, the competing products are hypervisors, and VMware, with a huge market-share advantage (an estimated 90 percent of the enterprise market runs some version of VMware's hypervisor), is Oracle's target. Some sort of price war might be developing as a result.

In launching version 3.0 of Oracle Virtual Machine on Aug. 23, the company's server virtualization and management package, Oracle is making some pretty bold claims: that it scales up about four times better than VMware does, delivers all the storage-management features that VMware offers and costs less to boot.

Oracle VM 3.0 is the lead product in an initiative the company calls "Application-Driven Virtualization." This would certainly make sense, since Oracle is an applications company. To put this in some sort of context, whichever IT company is doing the virtualizing tends to tilt it toward its own specialty.

For example, VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and Red Hat all have hypervisor-based virtualization packages; Cisco Systems features network-driven virtualization in its Unified Computing System; Hewlett-Packard and IBM focus on server-based virtualization; and EMC, NetApp, Symantec, Fujitsu and others put storage first in their virtualization platforms.

Virtualization: Tool for Accelerating Applications

"As our customers are deploying more and more complete solutions, such as cloud environments, virtualization strictly for consolidation purposes is no longer enough," Monica Kumar, Oracle senior director of product marketing, told eWEEK. "And it's not just for running operating systems in virtual machines. It's becoming more about using virtualization as a tool for improving application deployment."

Oracle VM focuses on making it easy to deploy and manage applications, Kumar said. VM 3.0 features new policy-based management capabilities, advanced storage management via the Oracle VM Storage Connect plug-in API, centralized network configuration management, improved ease-of-use and Open Virtualization Format (OVF) support, Kumar said.

Because VM 3.0 centralizes storage management alongside logical network configuration and management, it allows administrators to streamline and automate end-to-end virtual machine provisioning for a noticeable reduction in time and overhead, Kumar said.

"Oracle VM 3.0 is four times more scalable than the latest VMware [vSphere 5] offering," Kumar said. "What I mean by that is VMware supports up to 32 processors in a single virtual machine, whereas Oracle VM 3.0 supports up to 128 processors in a single virtual machine. That makes a lot of difference to a customer with large workloads that require more processing power."

Also, Oracle VM 3.0 has demonstrated support for up to 160 physical CPUs and 2TB memory using Oracle's Sun Fire X4800 M2 servers.

A feature that has been around a while called Oracle VM Templates, which are preconfigured software installation files available for free download, got an upgrade. Starting this week, 19 new templates-including those for Oracle middleware, the two operating systems (Solaris and Linux) and databases-will become available on the Oracle site. A total of 90 templates are currently available.

"So rather than have to install Oracle VM, PeopleSoft or J.D. Edwards [packages] from scratch, you copy these templates onto your server and have fully installed instances in your environment," Kumar said.

How Oracle Compares Itself to VMware

When compared to VMware vSphere5 running Red Hat Enterprise Linux guest VMs, Oracle VM 3.0 running Oracle Linux guest VMs is seven times less expensive, Kumar said.

Oracle did a cost comparison of 100 two-socket servers, each running six virtual machines, and 648GB of data per server, Kumar said. "The numbers we came up with are that VMware is seven times more expensive than VM 3.0," Kumar said.

Oracle VM is free to download and has zero license cost. Enterprise-quality support is offered through a subscription model per server.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...