Sun Makes Virtual Desktop Play With innotek Deal


Sun, Santa Clara, Calif., said on Tuesday it entered a stock purchase agreement to acquire innotek, a Stuttgart, Germany company that has been developing PC virtualization technology since 2001. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The major product of innotek is an open source virtualization software called VirtualBox. VirtualBox, which has been downloaded over 4 million times since January of 2007, enables desktop or laptop PCs running Windows, Linux, Macintosh, or Solaris operating systems to urn multiple different operating systems side-by-side. Users can switch between the operating systems with a mouse click.

Tim Marsland, Sun fellow and one of two CTOs of Sun's Software group, said the acquisition meshes well with other recent Sun open source moves, such as its acquisition last month of open source database developer MySQL.

VirtualBox also plays into Sun's xVM server virtualization strategy, Marsland said. xVM is a hypervisor-based server virtualization platform based on the Xen open source technology.

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"Our desire is to reach developers and open a funnel towards us for virtualization," Marsland said. "This also opens desktop virtualization for anyone anywhere."

VirtualBox runs as a hosted hypervisor on top of Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and Solaris operating systems, allowing developers to run their applications on multiple platforms without the need to install and reinstall and reinstall different operating environments, Marsland said.

Power users can also use VirtualBox to run an application they might not normally be able to run. For instance, he said, a Macintosh user might want to run a Windows application occasionally without having a Windows-based PC handy, and could do so by hosting the Windows operating system on the MacOS with VirtualBox.

VirtualBox allows the seamless mixing of operating systems, Marsland said. "On my blog, you can see I have the Windows Media Player running on my Solaris desktop," he said. "It's an example of how seamless the technology is."