An Update on xVM Server: Starting Early Access

With all the recent buzz about xVM VirtualBox, xVM Ops Center, and our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, I haven't written much about xVM Server here recently.  The team has been making massive progress, and is entering the home stretch to shipping version xVM Server 1.0. In fact, today I'm announcing that we're starting the first part of our early access program for the product.  We've signed up companies from sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, high-tech and government who will be the first to start using xVM Server.  We will be sending Sun engineers on site with each of these customers to collect first-hand feedback.  I expect we're about one month away from a publicly downloadable version of xVM Server (including binary and source code bundles!) so that anyone can start to work with the full product.  If you'd like to receive additional information about the early access program, you can send mail to xvm-server-ea-request@sun.com.

Given that we're getting very close to shipping, it's time to give everyone an update on progress and do a more in-depth sneak peek at features than I've done in the past.  First, a quick reminder about what's included in the xVM Portfolio so you can see where xVM Server fits.  The picture below shows how this fits together.  We have xVM VirtualBox for small scale desktop virtualization, and VDI as a management layer that scales out to very large-scale desktop consolidation projects. Then, on the server side, we have xVM Server as the software to virtualize a single server, and xVM Ops Center as the management tool for large scale virtual and physical data center.  xVM VirtualBox, xVM Ops Center and VDI are all commercially available today and rapidly being deployed by customers.  You can go to sun.com/xvm to learn more about all of these.

The core hypervisor that is part of xVM Server has been available as part of Open Solaris for some time.  However, xVM Server is really much more than just a naked hypervisor.  The diagram below gives some insight on this:

While diving deep into the all the features of xVM Server is more than I'll try to do in just one blog entry, I'd like to focus on the management features.  Note the BUI (Browser User Interface) and WS-MAN (Web Services Management) boxes in the diagram.    Each copy of xVM Server includes an embedded web server that allows it to be managed remotely via a graphical user interface in a browser (on any OS you choose with no local software installed), or via a Web Services API.  Let's take a few minutes and I'll give you a short tour of the user interface.

After the install of xVM Server, you can log into the system with any standard web browser.  The xVM Server UI, which uses the open source Ext JS AJAX toolkit, will pop up immediately.  Here's the log in screen.

After logging in you'll be presented with the top-level management view, which you can see here is running inside a standard Firefox browser.  This shows the hardware view of this single xVM Server.

By expanding the tree on the left, you can see the list of guest virtual machines running on that server.  The view below shows the information about a guest, which can be had by clicking on an entry in the tree.  The the UI, the left panel shows your assets, the center panel shows an inspector for the current item you have selected, and the right panel shows a list of actions you can take on the selected item.  If you choose to use a dedicated server to host the Ops Center management suite (instead of using the embedded xVM Server management tools) you'll be presented with a user interface that's almost identical, but adds powerful grouping and tagging features that allow for sensible management of thousands of machine instances.

As you can see if you look closely, there are features here for managing guest storage, virtual networking, historical monitoring and more.  In future entries I'll dive down deeper into some of these.  However, before we wrap up this tour, I thought I'd take just one more minute and give you a quick sample of what it's like to interact with the UI to acomplish a task.  In this case, I'll show you the act of creating a new guest virtual machine.  One of our goals for xVM Server, is to give you the power of a true Enterprise-class virtualization solution, but also make it instantly familiar to people using tools like xVM VirtualBox.

In order to create a new guest VM, you select the xVM Server object in the left panel and click Create New Guest on the right.  In order to create a guest, you'll be presented with this wizard.  For someone who's used xVM VirtualBox, much of this will seem familiar, but you quickly start to see new features such as multi-CPU guests, an intra-guest priority to ensure quality of service. and the ability to manage off-host network-based storage libraries.

That's all for now.  More updates to come, and keep an eye out here for more news.  It's going to be a very busy end to the summer here! 

Comments:

Wow that interface is amazing!! Nice Job

Posted by John J on August 07, 2008 at 04:41 AM PDT #

Very nice! Shoot me an email if you get I chance, I'd like to find out more about your implementation.

Posted by Brian Moeskau on August 07, 2008 at 04:56 AM PDT #

@Brian send an email to xvm-server-ea-request@sun.com and we'll get you some more info.

Thanks!

-Steve

Posted by Steve Wilson on August 07, 2008 at 05:58 AM PDT #

This is sick !!

Are you guys working on 3D accel in a guest btw ?
I look forward to be able to download this..

Regards,

Posted by EdwardOCallaghan on August 07, 2008 at 07:06 PM PDT #

This seems almost too good to be true. What's the catch??

Please comment about licensing and pricing.

How will you compete with VMware and Microsoft??

Thank you, Tom

Posted by Tom on August 08, 2008 at 02:00 AM PDT #

Looks promising but also so new and untested that Sun will have to do a lot to get SMBs to use it, in light of VMware's big market presence and 3rd-party support, same will be true for Microsoft.

VMware forums are pretty much THE best support site on the planet.

Thank you, Tom

Posted by Tom on August 08, 2008 at 02:08 AM PDT #

I can't wait for this and already have a new box ready for action. Can I clarify that this will be a free download and free to use (Support is a different matter).

Cheers

Posted by Andrew Watkins on August 08, 2008 at 02:11 AM PDT #

[Trackback] Sun Microsystems is close to releasing its latest virtualization product to market: the company's first and anticipated server virtualization hypervisor technology, xVM Server.

Posted by Virtualization Report | David Marshall on August 11, 2008 at 01:05 PM PDT #

Please comment about importing or migrating other VM formats, such as VHD, VMware Server VMs, ESX VMs, etc.

The ease or difficulty of this operation will make a difference to many people.

Thank you, Tom

Posted by Tom on August 12, 2008 at 02:40 AM PDT #

@Tom the primary virtual hard disk format for xVM Server is VMDK. We picked that to ensure easy interoperability with VMware.

Posted by Steve Wilson on August 13, 2008 at 01:07 AM PDT #

[Trackback] Dans un long billet sur son blog, Steve Wilson, le vice-président en charge des outils de virtualisation de Sun, présente les principales caractéristiques de xVM Server, l’hyperviseur de la firme basé sur Open Solaris, et annonce une disponib...

Posted by LeMagIT on August 17, 2008 at 05:46 PM PDT #

;)

wondering WHY you use a debianEtch OS type for a Solaris DVD on your screenshots ???

:-P

Posted by apt on August 19, 2008 at 08:37 PM PDT #

Right now, the Ops Center is not a free product. Will that change with this release? My org is looking carefully at Xen as a replacement for VMWare, and this is a really slick implementation. Is there a good place for me to find information about licensing, etc? Right now, xVM seems to be in the skunkworks.

cheers,
Blake

Posted by Blake Irvin on August 20, 2008 at 05:27 AM PDT #

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Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.

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