Enterprise Virtualization Evolution

Here’s the state of virtualization, from applications to consolidation and engineered systems.

By Tom Haunert

January/February 2014

In August 2013, Oracle’s virtualization solution portfolio expanded to include Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance, an engineered system for application virtualization. Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president of Linux and virtualization at Oracle, sat down with Tom Haunert, editor in chief of Oracle Magazine, to talk about the past, present, and future of enterprise virtualization and Oracle virtualization solutions. The following is an excerpt from that interview. Listen to the full interview at

Oracle Magazine: Most Oracle Magazine readers are familiar with the term virtual machine [VM], but what is the origin of enterprise virtualization, and how is it defined today?

Coekaerts: When you look at enterprise virtualization, it started first on the mainframe, then on UNIX vendor systems, and then on x86 systems. Today many enterprise workloads are being virtualized to help with consolidation of applications and operating systems.

While many applications have been virtualized, in most cases it has been Windows applications (on x86 systems) in smaller environments. But there has been a trend in the last few years to start virtualizing enterprise applications such as Oracle Database and Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Oracle Magazine: What are the most significant Oracle enterprise virtualization products and solutions?

Coekaerts: We launched Oracle VM in 2007 on x86 to make sure that when customers virtualize Oracle products, we—Oracle—can say, “Look, this is completely certified. It’s tested. You get everything from us, and you know that we can support this thing top to bottom.”

With the Sun acquisition, we got SPARC systems and the SPARC hypervisor [Logical Domains, or LDoms], which we renamed Oracle VM Server for SPARC. Oracle VM Server for SPARC is a very powerful hypervisor that has been used for many years on the SPARC T-Series systems. And now it also supports the SPARC M-Series.

We also have Oracle Solaris Zones, which is an isolation technology where you have one operating system running, but you can create zones within that operating system that make it look as if you are on a different hardware platform or virtualized hardware platform. The advantage of Oracle Solaris Zones is that there is no real virtualization overhead because there’s nothing virtualized.

Most recently, we announced Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance, an x86-based appliance that uses Oracle VM.

Oracle Magazine: What are the key technologies in Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance?

Coekaerts: Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance integrates storage, servers, management nodes, compute nodes, built-in InfiniBand switches, and two Oracle fabric managers.

The base rack comes with two compute nodes, but you can go up to 25 compute nodes in a box. Everything in the rack is prewired for you. You plug in the power and network cables and power on one of the management nodes. The management node automatically powers on all the other nodes and provisions the entire system. After about 45 minutes, you can log in to the compute appliance and start creating virtual machines.

Oracle Magazine: What types of use cases do you see for Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance?

Coekaerts: One use case is that it is really easy for companies to ship a system to a remote location where you might not have people there to maintain it.

Another use case is consolidation. Suppose you have a whole bunch of database servers, some middle-tier servers, some third-party applications, and maybe even some Windows VMs, and the hardware is getting to end of life. Oracle Virtual Compute Appliance makes it very easy to take the applications on all of these machines and consolidate everything into one big rack where you have high availability automatically, right out of the box.

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