Oracle Snaps Up Virtual Iron, Plans Virtualization Push

server virtualization software

The move comes less than a month after Oracle said it plans to acquire Sun Microsystems in a $7.4 billion bid.

Virtual Iron, of Lowell, Mass., is a developer of server virtualization products, including a hypervisor, virtualization services such as server partitioning and virtual infrastructure creation, and an enterprise-class server virtualization management application.

Virtual Iron's technology is complementary to its own Oracle VM server virtualization platform, Oracle said in a statement.

Oracle declined to elaborate further on the acquisition.

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Oracle unveiled its Oracle VM platform in late 2007. Oracle VM provides technology for server consolidation, high availability and live virtual machine migration.

Oracle said Virtual Iron's dynamic resource and capacity management technology complements the core features of Oracle VM by providing tools for capacity management, power management and easy virtualization integration with open and scriptable APIs.

The technology of both Oracle VM and Virtual Iron is based on Xen open source software. Xen also forms the base on which Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix's XenServer and Sun's xVM are built.

Left unsaid in the materials is how the acquisition of Virtual Iron will impact Oracle's competitiveness with archrivals Microsoft and IBM.

Microsoft's Hyper-V server virtualization technology is in the process of becoming available free of charge with every instance of Windows Server 2008. Meanwhile, IBM is a major partner of Microsoft archrival VMware, the leading provider of server virtualization technology.

Both Microsoft and IBM are key rivals of Oracle's database software, including its legacy enterprise-class Oracle Database and the free-of-charge MySQL database application it will get once its acquisition of Sun closes.

By integrating a mature server virtualization technology with its existing software stack, Oracle could become a major competitor in the virtualization market and increase pressure on Microsoft in the software market.

Wim Coekaerts, vice president of Linux and virtualization engineering at Oracle, wrote in a statement that the combination of Virtual Iron technology and Oracle VM should provide more comprehensive and dynamic resource management across the full software stack.

"Customers are expected to benefit from rapid application deployment, streamlined virtualization server configuration and improved visibility and control across Oracle's enterprise software stack. In addition, we anticipate that the combination of Virtual Iron technology with Oracle Enterprise Manager will enable customers to be more agile in meeting application service levels for virtual environments," Coekaerts wrote.

Oracle Enterprise Manager provides application management and quality assurance solutions for Oracle technologies, including Oracle packaged applications, Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Database and Oracle VM.

Oracle's channel partners can benefit from the acquisition by working with a single vendor for dynamic resource management solutions, wrote Judson Althoff, group vice president of worldwide alliances and channels at Oracle, in a statement.

"Resellers and distributors are expected to gain expanded opportunities to provide solutions," Althoff wrote. "We anticipate that technology partners will gain broader opportunities for development integrations and system integrators will have the opportunity to extend services around Oracle's solutions. Partners can take advantage of Oracle's worldwide resources and enablement through the Oracle PartnerNetwork program."

The acquisition of Virtual Iron is expected to close this summer. Oracle did not disclose financial details of the transaction.