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Oracle Buys Virtual Iron

So now Oracle has decided to buy Virtual Iron. Like Wow.

With this move, Oracle has staked its claim as a major virtualization player. Following its acquisition of Sun, Oracle now has not one (its own), not two (the Sun xVM suite), but three (Virtual Iron) separate virtualization stacks. That's pretty amazing.

It may also signal a shift in Oracle's virtualization strategy -- maybe not so much a shift, though, as an expansion. Oracle plays almost exclusively in the enterprise sandbox, with its database, and now with the hardware (Sun servers) and software (Java, MySQL, xVM) it acquired from Sun.

In stark contrast, Virtual Iron has planted its flag in SMBland. I've talked with Virtual Iron a number of times over the past several years, and that's what they emphasize. Virtual Iron knew it couldn't "out-VMware" VMware, and it wisely didn't try. About two-thirds of its sales are to the SMB market, I was told last year.

Virtual Iron is a very capable virtualization stack (note that everything comes in one package with Virtual Iron; the hypervisor, management component, and so on. The company doesn't dole the stack out piecemeal.) The list of features for the $799/socket Extended Enterprise Edition includes live migration, unlimited virtual servers, HA and P2V/V2V through a PlateSpin module. It's a solid offering that's well-regarded in the community and by users. We gave it a favorable review as well last year.

Oracle also gets, of course, Virtual Iron's Xen-based hypervisor, one of the things missing from Sun's stack. Oracle's own hypervisor is Xen-based, so one question is whether Oracle will consolidate these hypervisors into one offering, or keep them separate, since both have been tweaked for use with its own products.

A related unknown is whether all the virtualization technology Oracle's been buying up will eventually result in one mega-virtualization package, or if it will maintain separate product lines targeted at different business segments. One thing is sure, however: Oracle has decided to move beyond the closed boundaries of running only Oracle databases on only Oracle VMs.

Given Oracle's virtualization buying spree, I now see it as a competitor with the potential to become the No. 2 virtualization player behind VMware, edging out Microsoft. This assumes it executes a sound strategy, and does it with alacrity, given how fast companies like Citrix, Microsoft and VMware are moving the industry forward. I'm not predicting this will happen, but saying the possibility exists.

What's your take on the purchase? Smart or dumb by Oracle? Can it successfully sell to the SMB market? Let me know, or talk about it below.

Posted by Keith Ward on 05/13/2009 at 12:48 PM


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