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Top 10 server virtualization news stories of 2010

VSphere 4.1 and XenServer 5.6 were major releases in 2010, but that's just the tip of the server virtualization news iceberg. Check out what else dominated the headlines this year.

By Colin Steele, Senior Site Editor

Cloud computing and desktop virtualization got a lot of headlines this year, but there was no shortage of server virtualization news in 2010.

VMware continued its dominance of the server virtualization market, while challengers -- including Microsoft, Citrix Systems, Oracle and Red Hat -- all tried to make inroads in various ways.

These top 10 server virtualization news stories of 2010 combine articles that were most popular with readers and those that had the biggest effect on users:

10. Blogger hiring spree
The search for top talent led many server virtualization vendors to the blogosphere in 2010, where they recruited several popular bloggers for their teams.

Among the big-name hires were Scott Lowe, Nicholas Weaver and Jase McCarty, who all joined EMC. The VCE Company brought on Aaron Delp, Kendrick Coleman and others as part of its massive hiring spree, and Veeam Software hired Rich Brambley and Rick Vanover. This trend raised some concerns that opinions in the blogosphere would become less diverse.

9. VMware-Novell acquisition rumors
VMware and Novell strengthened their relationship in 2010, as VMware announced plans to standardize its virtual appliances on Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system. But the possibility of an even stronger relationship arose in September, when The Wall Street Journal reported that VMware and Novell were in acquisition talks.

Reactions to the VMware-Novell acquisition talks were mixed. Some observers said the move would have fit in with VMware's goal to expand beyond virtualization, but others thought Novell would be a distraction for VMware. It turned out to be all for naught, though, because Attachmate -- not VMware -- acquired Novell in November.

8. Oracle revives Java virtualization
Oracle spent much of 2010 trying to shore up its server virtualization offerings following last year's Sun Microsystems acquisition. Despite this focus on Oracle virtualization, the company remained an afterthought for many users this year -- even though VMware CEO Paul Maritz identified Oracle as a formidable competitor in a recent interview.

One interesting tactic Oracle took in 2010 was to revive Java virtualization, which lets Java virtual machines run directly on the hypervisor without an OS. But experts said it wouldn't affect most users, because support was limited to Oracle VM.

7. Red Hat goes 100% KVM
Red Hat threw its weight completely behind kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) technology with November's release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Previous versions supported both Xen and KVM, but RHEL 6 supports only KVM, which is part of the Linux kernel itself.

Red Hat users spent much of the year preparing for Xen-to-KVM migrations, and some bemoaned the company's scarcity of virtual server management tools. In addition, Red Hat's support of KVM turned up the heat in the Xen vs. KVM battle and caused some friction with Citrix Systems.

6. Shift from ESX to ESXi
VMware users started moving to the lightweight ESXi hypervisor in 2010. The company does not plan to develop ESX, its traditional hypervisor, past vSphere 4.1, which came out this summer.

Users who moved to VMware ESXi said the biggest adjustment is working without the Linux-based management console, which was very popular in ESX. But VMware said users who moved from ESX to ESXi would have a more efficient and secure hypervisor.

As an example of just how lightweight ESXi is, booting ESXi off USB flash drives became a popular practice in 2010.

Check out the rest of our top 10 server virtualization news stories of 2010.

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