Sun Middleware System Virtualization Support Statement
By ckamps on May 30, 2008
Given the popularity of system or server virtualization products and technologies including VMware, Xen, Sun xVM VirtualBox, etc. in addition to Sun's upcoming xVM Server product, partners, prospects and customers often ask whether Sun supports the deployment of our middleware on these environments. Historically, we've provided inconsistent answers to this question.
Muddled Response No More
Well, the muddled messages should soon be a thing of the past. In March we published a public support statement explaining Sun's support of using Sun middleware products on a variety of system virtualization technologies. There's still work to do to share this message internally within Sun and with our partners, prospects and customers, but at least we have the basis for addressing this common question.
The great news is that the answer is generally: "Yes, of course we support it".
This support statement covers a wide range of Sun middleware products. The actual document has been incorporated into the documentation collections of the various Sun middleware products and an effort is under way to spread awareness of the support statement via the Sun product pages on sun.com, BigAdmin and other forums.
So What's the Catch?
There is no catch. The basic premise of our support statement is this:
If you intend to deploy Sun middleware products within system virtualized environments, Sun will support such use as long as the OS platform and architecture are supported by the Sun product and the underlying layers of the deployment stack are supported by their respective owners.
Read the support statement for the fine print.
In the support statement we call out specific system virtualization technologies that Sun uses during testing of our middleware products. Naturally, these explicitly listed technologies are ones that are extremely popular and/or ones in which Sun has made substantial investments.
Technologies that aren't listed are addressed by a catch all clause at the end of the support statement. If you've got a particular system virtualization technology in mind and the various deployment components are supported on it, generally, Sun will support use of Sun middleware products in the environment.
Several questions that have been raised concerning the support statement are:
Why don't you list the exact versions of each middleware product?
We're generally liberal with our support statement in that any of the currently support Sun middleware products are supported according to the statement. Since our support position depends on the OS compatibility certified by the OS and virtualization providers and, in some cases tested again with our middleware, we don't see a need to enumerate all of the existing supported versions of Sun middleware products. At one level, it would be similar to stating that in response to the emergence of a new x86 compatible processor or server system, we'd have to state for each Sun middleware product version whether that new processor or server is supported.
Why don't you list all of the relevant system virtualization technologies?
We explicitly list those virtualization technologies for which we carry out testing with our middleware products. All of the other technologies are subject to the constraints explianed in the catch all clause. Given that the list of virtualization technologies is so long, the best we might be able to convey (and maintain) is a few examples. However, by listing examples, we run the risk of implying that those examples are better supported than others.
Where's virtualization technology X?
As you can imagine, the world of system virtualization is rapidly evolving. As we continue to test new combinations, we're updating the support statement. Most notably, we're about to add Solaris 9 Containers, Sun xVM VirtualBox and, later this CY, Sun xVM Server to the explicitly listed technologies.
Hey, how do I tune a deployment on virtualization technology X?
Aha! You win the prize by emphasizing the somewhat limited scope of the support statement. As my colleague Rudolf Kutina has made clear to me time and time again, there's much more involved in "supporting" a particular technology than simply stating that X, Y and Z technologies are "supported" from a functional standpoint (as if that was easy itself). So, yes, each of our middleware products teams and Sun groups that help deliver system virtualization technology need to offer more in terms of practical guidance. The support statement as it stands today is much more geared toward leveraging the functional compatibility offered by these technologies. Real world deployments are especially sensitive to proper sizing and tuning of virtualized resources.
Always Room for Improvement
If you have any comments on the support statement and thoughts on ways in which we can improve it without adding lots of maintenance requirements, I'd love to hear what you have to say.