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Oracle launches Xen-based virtualization platform

With a new promise to support its vast suite of enterprise applications on the Xen-derived hypervisor Oracle VM, Oracle says, "Move over, VMware ESX."

Today Oracle Corp. threw its hat in the virtualization ring with its announcement of Oracle VM, a virtualization platform on which users can support key applications, including Oracle Database, Oracle Application Server, Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, to name a few.

For more on Oracle and virtualization:
Oracle licensing, support pose VMware virtualization hurdle

Based on the open source Xen hypervisor, Oracle VM will support both Linux and Windows guests, including Oracle's own Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5; Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, 4 and 5, Windows 2003, Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

Oracle applications supported on Oracle VM include the following:

  • Oracle Database and 11.1;
  • Oracle Application Server 10g Release 2 and 10g Release 3;
  • Oracle Enterprise Manager;
  • Oracle TimesTen;
  • Oracle Berkeley DB 4.6;
  • Oracle E-Business Suite 11.5.10 and 12;
  • Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise 9.0;
  • PeopleTools 8.49.07 and above;
  • Oracle's Siebel CRM 8; and
  • Oracle's Hyperion 9.3.1.

Pricing for Oracle VM, meanwhile, is based on a yearly support contract: $499 per year for a system with up to two CPUs and $999 per year for a system with an unlimited number of CPUs. The software itself is available for free download starting Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Relaxed licensing and support?
IT managers' desire to virtualize Oracle applications is a relatively recent phenomenon. "Oracle's focus is on big-enterprise apps that have not been virtualized as aggressively as lighter applications," said Gordon Haff, principal IT adviser at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H. "They're typically version I/O- and compute-intensive applications that, business reasons aside, don't lend themselves to being virtualized," Haff said.
Whatever they do on their platform will tend to flow over to others' platforms over time.
Gordon Haff,
analystIlluminata Inc.

But as IT managers become more comfortable with virtualization and as the technology matures, resistance to running databases in a virtual machine (VM) has slackened, and some IT managers have expressed a desire to virtualize less I/O-intensive database applications on platforms such as VMware ESX Server.

Oracle has put a damper on that trend, however, with its virtualization-unfriendly policies. Unlike vendors like BEA Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Oracle has continued to insist on licensing its applications per CPU rather than per instance, negating many of the cost savings that come along with consolidating applications onto shared, virtualized infrastructure. Likewise, support for Oracle applications running within a VM has not always been a given.

For now, pricing for individual Oracle applications remains unchanged; they're still priced according to the underlying hardware. At least when it comes to Oracle's own applications, support on Oracle VM is ensured. Eventually though, Oracle's support and pricing policies will likely carry over to virtualization platforms like VMware ESX, said Haff.

"Whatever they do on their platform will tend to flow over to others' platforms over time," Haff said. "That's not to say that you won't get a deal if you run on their platform."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, News Director.

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