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Oracle VM, unveiled Monday at the Oracle OpenWorld convention in San Francisco, enables virtualization on Oracle and non-Oracle software applications and on the Linux and Windows operating systems. It also operates on industry-standard x86- and x86-64-based servers. Oracle claims it offers virtualization at a cost that's lower than competitors' prices.
The Oracle announcement sent VMware's stock tumbling Monday by 8.41% or $7.38 a share, to close at $80.36 at the end of regular trading. It fell further, to $77.50, in after hours trading. The stock of Novell and Red Hat moved only slightly.
The hypervisor is available as a free download. Technical support, including upgrades, on servers with one or two CPUs costs $499 per year, per system, while support for a system with unlimited CPUs costs $999 per year, per system.
By offering Oracle VM support at lower prices, Oracle again is pursuing a strategy it revealed last year when it offered less-expensive support for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system than Red Hat does. By offering a Xen-based hypervisor, just as Red Hat and Novell do, Oracle could increase its competitive pressure.
Oracle VM provisions virtual servers, manages virtual environments and moves applications from one server to another while the program remains running. “With Oracle VM, users keep doing what they’re doing, whether they are running a database or running an application, they don’t see any change at all. Their job just moves from one machine to another,” said Chuck Rozwat, executive vice president of product development for Oracle, during a demonstration of Oracle VM at OpenWorld.
Companies like Oracle are introducing virtualization hypervisors to take some control away from the operating system over software applications in a server, says Gordon Haff, principal analyst with research firm Illuminata. But Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, Calif., also wants to muscle in on the market share of the leading hypervisor vendor, VMware, in nearby Palo Alto.
“Just as Oracle wants to minimize the role of the [operating system], so too does it want to minimize the role of the hypervisor,” Haff wrote on his blog, Illuminata Perspectives. “From the vantage of Redwood Shores, VMware is getting altogether too much attention. The easiest way to minimize the impact of the virtualization players? Offer Oracle’s own hypervisor.”
VMware says it welcomes Oracle's entry into the virtualization space, but its prepared statement regards Oracle as more of a partner than a competitor. “We hope this will be the first of many steps that Oracle takes towards broad enablement of virtualization,”said the statement, attributed to Parag Patel, vice president of alliances for VMware, who also said that the company seeks stronger virtualization support from Oracle, “including clear and consistent licensing guidelines for running Oracle software in virtualized environments.”