Eye on Oracle

Mar 11 2009   2:04PM GMT

Can Oracle be a contender in the virtualization wars?

Shayna Garlick Shayna Garlick Profile: Shayna Garlick

Oracle has always been known as a fierce competitor, but when it comes to one area — virtualization — the software giant has stayed somewhat out of the limelight.

Is that about to change?

Oracle is reportedly in talks to acquire Virtual Iron, the fifth-largest server virtualization vendor,, and if they close the deal, the answer may very well be yes.

Still, even if the deal is made, Oracle may have a way to go before becoming a competitive force in the virtualization market. Currently, the software vendor lags other vendors in VM-friendly licensing and support policies, according to analysts. Experts also say the fact that Oracle software is only compatible on its own virtualization platform, Oracle VM, rather than the more widely supported VMware platform, puts it at a big disadvantage.

In the last round of “virtualization wars,” which took place this summer, Oracle wasn’t even considered a contender among Microsoft, VMware and Citrix. Now, Red Hat is in the mix, and analysts think that Oracle will be too with the purchase of Virtual Iron.

This isn’t Oracle’s only recent effort in the virtualization space. According to IT Business Edge blogger Arthur Cole, virtual management is becoming a problem as more and more shops become virtualized. A recent study from the IDC also found that as larger scale virtualization deployments become more common, there’s growing demand for sophisticated management software tools. And Oracle’s new Oracle VM Management Pack, released last week, provides Oracle VM users with new management capabilities, including automated deployment, built-in configuration management and policy based management.

Oracle also says that the Oracle VM Management Pack, which is part of the latest Oracle Enterprise Manager release, is affordable– “a major step forward in helping our customers drive down the cost of managing applications in virtual environments,” said Richard Sarwal, Oracle senior vice president Product Development.

But is Oracle doing enough to become a major virtualization player?

This is yet to be known, but it may be a challenge if Oracle continues to refuse supporting third-party virtualization software. According to the SearchServerVirtualization article, “Oracle would most likely buy Virtual Iron to beef up management tools for its virtualization technology, Oracle VM” — which, experts agree, “is not up to VMware standards.” And according to analyst Gordon Haff, [Virtual Iron] might be the fifth largest virtualization player, but that’s like being a fourth-string quarterback.”

What has your experience been with virtualization technology? What would you like to see Oracle do? Are you satisfied with Oracle VM, or would you like them to support VMware? What are the greatest obstacles you’ve had with using virtualization technology in your environment?

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