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Have ready some clean towels and a cardboard box, Sun Microsystems is whelping the first in a litter of virtualization products next month.

Sun is sneaking off to a nice quiet closet to birth xVM Ops Center, the physical and virtual resource management stack for the xVM product family. This puppy will be available January 8, 2008.

The software is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor project. The lineup will eventually center around xVM Server (the hypervisor part) and xVM Ops Center (the management part). Compare the concept to virtualization leader VMWare's ESX and Virtual Center respectively, and you shouldn't be too far off.

Sun pegs xVM Ops Center as a all-in-one virtualized datacenter "automation tool" (read: does stuff like discovery, monitoring, OS provisioning, updates and patches) using a simple, Ajax-based interface. It's a shakeup of Sun's N1 Systems Manager (N1SM) and Sun Connection, formerly known as Update Connection Enterprise, formerly known as Aduva OnStage.

Ops is friendly to cross-platform Linux and Solaris OS-based x86 and SPARC environments.

Oren Teich, xVM director of marketing, says you can take a new machine out of the box, plug it in, and Ops takes over. The software can manage thousands of systems simultaneously — implementing patches and updates at the get-go, then automating administrator tasks such as provisioning, monitoring, system tracking and...more updating. You can always use a good updating.

Sun is heralding in Ops by releasing the source code used to build the software on the OpenxVM.org community site this month. The Common Agent Container source code will hit Dec. 10, 2007.

In Jan., a distribution of Ops Center will be made available via free download. The commercial version will cost $10,000, which includes on-sight installation and training. After that, the price of admission is $100-$350 annually, depending on the feature set selected.

Teich couldn't give a firm date on when the rest of the xVM lineup will be gestated, but said it should definitely arrive before the second quarter of '08. ®

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