Oracle VM 3.0 launch - the hypervisor battle heats up

VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat and the open source community have all been trying to take the hypervisor high ground. Oracle has just jumped into the battle with guns blazing. Can Oracle unseat VMware?

The battle over the virtual machine software market, also known as the hypervisor market, has just heated up a notch. Oracle has leaped onto the field with guns blazing hoping to take down the almighty at VMware. Oracle joins Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, the Xen open source community, the KVM open source community in the effort to take on the leading supplier of virtual machine software, VMware. In this announcement, Oracle is trying to one-up VMware in a number of key areas.

What did Oracle announce?

Oracle announced Oracle VM 3.0, Oracle's own distribution of  Xen virtual machine software. It also announced the Oracle VM Storage connect to improve how virtual servers interact with storage.

Here's how Oracle describes the key features of Oracle VM 3.0:

  • Storage Connect plug-in framework: lets administrators transparently manage virtualization and attached storage arrays together through Oracle VM Manager while fully leveraging their investments in advanced storage functionality, such as deduplication and fast clone. Plug-ins are being developed by Oracle for its Pillar Axiom SAN storage system and Sun ZFS Storage Appliance, and by other and leading storage providers, including Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, and NetApp.
  • Centralized network configuration and management: enables configuration of all server and VM networking from the Oracle VM Manager GUI, including advanced options such as bridging, bonding, VLANs and multi-pathing.
  • Improved ease-of-use: new features including server and storage discovery help speed infrastructure set-up while a new, dynamic “real-time” HTML user interface and comprehensive event tracking capabilities facilitate management over time.
  • Advanced, policy-based management capabilities: automates dynamic resource scheduling and server power management to improve application quality of service and reduce cost and power consumption in support of “green IT” initiatives.
  • Open Virtualization Format (OVF) industry standard support: enables customers to use Oracle VM Manager to import OVF based software assemblies to accelerate application deployment.

Snapshot analysis

Since Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, we've seen an increased emphasis on a complete stack of Oracle products including the following:
  • A family of systems
  • An operating system (Linux)
  • A virtual machine software product (Oracle VM)
  • Development environment
  • Management tools for the entire Oracle environment
  • Database engine
  • Applications

I find myself reminded of IBM in the early 1970s.

When surveyed, Oracle's customers and partners have complained about Oracle's tactics in trying to take over the complete IT environment in its customer's data centers. Oracle has dropped support of its products on some competitive systems, has said that it will not test and support opposing virtual machine technology and now appears to be attacking VMware straight on on the eve of VMware's bash, VMworld.

Oracle's VM 3.0 clearly is designed to out gun VMware in a number of key areas: management, connections with storage, scalability, and, of course, support of Oracle's applications and tools. Will this be enough to turn VMware hypervisor customers into Oracle hypervisor customers? I don't think so.  We'll need to read more customer success stories, learn more about whether Oracle VM really out performs VMware, and learn if Oracle's hypervisor support is really enterprise-class. Since Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, the Xen open source community, the KVM open source community and a few others are also charging up the hill towards VMware, it is going to be an interesting battle.

It appears to me that all of this direct competition is going to force VMware to do the following things:

  • Revise its recently revised pricing strategy to more directly deal with the competition
  • Revise its terms and conditions (I've been hearing people talk about the VMware Hypervisor tax on their organization. Could Oracle's announcement force a change?)
  • Support policies for operating systems, third party applications and third party tools

Let's see what VMware does next week.  I'll be at VMworld and will post what I learn.