VirtualBox and Sun xVM
By vsarathy on Feb 18, 2008
Wow what a week! Last week, Sun announced the intent to acquire innotek the developers of VirtualBox. The news has been been received extremely well internally and externally. If you missed the coverage then click here to see a listing on Steve's Wilson's blog of all the coverage. Steve's blog last week also did a good job of covering the significance of the acquisition. Still, there is fair bit of confusion about how it relates to the rest of our Sun xVM family etc. So let me take the opportunity to detail what Sun xVM is and how the various pieces including VirtualBox fit in.
Lets start at the top - Sun xVM is our software platform for virtualization and management and comprises a suite of products and virtualization technologies designed specifically with heterogeneous IT infrastructure in mind. This means that the Sun xVM software can enable and manage virtualization of environments that consist of Sun as well as non-Sun hardware, software and operating systems. Just as an example Sun xVM will enable Windows or Linux workloads to run on even on non-Sun x86 hardware. Why would we do this? Well, Sun has over the years developed many innovations and competencies as part of our software and operating systems portfolio such as Predictive Self-Healing, Advanced Networking, ZFS etc. These technologies and features were previously only available to Sun customers. Now thanks to the growing interest in hypervisor technology especially on x86, we are exposing these features to all guests including Windows and Linux.
With that context, let me introduce the various components in the Sun xVM family. Broadly, there are two key pieces
- Sun xVM Server (hypervisor)
- Sun xVM Ops Center for management
On the Sun xVM server side we offer solutions for both the x86 as well as the SPARC worlds. Lets start with our x86 offerings. For the enterprise-grade datacenter applications we have Sun xVM Server. Sun xVM Server is a bare-metal hypervisor and based on the opensource Xen technology. It offers the same interoperability and migration features in Xen but has been enhanced with many advanced features including Predictive Self-Healing, Advanced Network Bandwidth management as well as Security enhancements. What is really cool is that Sun xVM server will natively import/export VMDK and VHD images to facilitate interoperation with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. So thats our enterprise-grade x86 offering.
Sun xVM VirtualBox on the other hand is perfect of developers because it allows multiple different operating systems to run on top of an existing operating system that they may have on their desktop. Sun xVM VirtualBox supports Windows, Linux, Mac and Solaris hosts. VirtualBox does not have the enterprise class features such as live migration but is ideal for developers who can now use this to setup multiple virtual machines to develop and test their multi-tier or cross-platforms applications - all on a single laptop or desktop. Best of all its freely downloadable without any registration or license keys and is extremely compact at under 20 MB and easy to install and use in minutes.
For the SPARC architecture, Sun is known for its virtualization technologies such as LDOMs and containers which will continue to be offered and enhanced as part of the Sun xVM portfolio.
Now on the Management Side of the Sun xVM portfolio, we have the Sun xVM Ops Center. Once again Ops center is being designed for the management of heterogeneous infrastructure. Sun xVM Ops Center provides a single console for the management of both the physical and virtual infrastructure in a virtualized environment. Ops Center allows you to discover any existing infrastructure including hardware that has just been unpacked and plugged in but that has not been switched on. It can power everything up and then provision this hardware with firmware or operating systems and other software as required. Once operational, it can ensure that all the servers both physical and virtualized can be updated and patched using its best-in-class patch management capabilities. Finally, it enables all kinds of custom reports to be generated for operational as well as compliance purposes. So in summary with Sun xVM Ops Center, you can discover, inventory, manage and update your Sun assets from one simple interface.
Hopefully that gives you a quick overview of the Sun xVM virtualization and management platform. Visit sun.com/xvm for additional detail.