Schwartz Unveils Sun's Virtualization Hypervisor

operating systems

In a Wednesday keynote speech at Oracle Openworld, Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems, took the wraps off xVM, a virtualization and management platform that consists of Sun xVM Server, a bare metal virtualization hypervisor, and Sun xVM Ops Center, a virtualization management tool.

xVM is Sun's first virtualization technology based on a hypervisor. With hypervisor technology, a physical server can be partitioned into multiple virtual servers running a software stack consisting of an operating system and one or more applications.

Previously, Sun offered both hardware virtualization based on logically partitioning its processors into smaller virtual processors running their own operating systems, and software virtualization based on the container feature in its Solaris operating system. With Sun containers, one instance of Solaris runs multiple containers, each of which includes its own application.

xVM refects Sun's strategy of virtualizing all datacenter assets, including network, storage, applications and hardware. But just as important is the ability to manage virtual environments that typically span multiple vendors' operating systems and hardware, according to Schwartz.

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xVM uses hypervisor technology from the Xen community, and virtualizes and manages mixed environments running Java, OpenSolaris, Linux, and Windows, and works with HP, Dell, IBM and Sun hardware, Schwartz said.

Michael Dell joined Schwartz onstage to announce Dell's boosting of support for Solaris, handing Schwartz a t-shirt with "We're Listening" on the back. This tagline, Dell said, is meant to reflect Dell's hawklike attention to the needs of its customers.

Also joining Schwartz onstage was Rich Green, executive vice president of software at Sun, who said virtualization creates management challenges in the form of server sprawl, multiple operating system instances, and application workloads.

"It's important to focus on the management of the virtual environment, as opposed to the substrate, in building the data centers of the future," Green said.

With xVM, Sun has also drawn on the lessons it learned with its ZFS, a relatively new file system developed by Sun to bring multiple commodity disks into a scalable system to store and serve data with the quality of enterprise disks. ZFS abstracts the complexity of storage, such as striping data over multiple disks, and uses fast CPUs and software so that RAID cards are not needed, Schwartz said.

As it has done in the past with Solaris and Java, Sun will emphasize building a community of users around xVM in order to drive the volume it sees as key to creating business opportunities in the services space, Schwartz said.