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Oracle plucks meat from Virtual Iron carcass

Mmm, tastes good to us

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Oracle plans to add various Virtual Iron management tools to its Oracle VM product, and the combined offering is scheduled for release "early to mid next calendar year."

"With Virtual Iron, we are able to take the pieces that they're very strong at and include that into our virtualization management component," Wim Coekaerts, vp of Linux engineering at Oracle, told (former) VI partners today during a private webcast.

It would appear that Coekaerts and company are most interested in Live Capacity and Live Power, components of Virtual Iron, which Oracle will no longer offer as a standalone product.

Notice the past tense in the following:

"One of things the [Virtual Iron] product was known for was ease of use," Coekaerts continued. "Everyone agrees that the VI product was user friendly. They had a very good API to connect to from a third-party point of view. They already have dynamic power management and capacity planning.

"So move workloads around, shutting down a server when it's not needed. Those are the pieces that were very interesting to us, and we plan to take all the best components of the products and integrate it into a single product: Oracle VM."

Later, he added: "[Virtual Iron] just helps us add a number of features rapidly into the Oracle offering, both in the Oracle VM Manager and the Oracle Enterprise Manager." Both Oracle VM and Virtual Iron use Linux as a management domain, and both are Xen-based hypervisor products. "The technologies were built to work with the same core pieces."

Coekaerts also hinted that Oracle purchased the startup for its talent. "[Vitual Iron] has really good developers," he said. "We bring on people who can jump into this right away."

Oracle has not set a firm date for the release of its Oracle VM-meets-Virtual Iron offering, but it promised to provide more details to existing VI customers in "the next few weeks."

Oracle acquired Virtual Iron last month for an undisclosed fee, and last week, it told VI partners it would effectively kill the company's existing product before the end of the month.

During today's webcast, Oracle confirmed that it will no longer develop or sell the existing version of Virtual Iron - though it will continue to support the product. The company will "do its best" to provide licenses to existing customers until June 30 - if certain criteria are met.

"So basically, anyone that built their hosting infrastructure on VI...is now totally in the shit," one partner told The Reg last week. "Unless they buy a whole bunch of licenses before the end of June, they will be unable to buy any more node capacity for their clusters. Oracle are shutting down the product, without giving customers some sort of replacement. That's a huge customer/partner channel shafting."

A former VI employee tells The Reg that the company has 1,500 resellers and between 2,000 and 3,000 customers worldwide. Big-name customers include the FBI and several ISPs in the US and UK, he said.

Oracle took questions from partners on today's webcast, but did not answer them. "We are collecting the online chat questions here, and we will get information back to you although we weren't able to do Q&A today," one Oracle bigwig said. "We do intend to get back to you."

Oracle's swift Virtual Iron burial also raises questions about how the company will handle Sun Microsystem's virtualization extravaganza. Sun - which Oracle has agreed to acquire for $7.4bn - offers no fewer than four virtualization tools, including VirtualBox, xVM Server, Logical Domains, and Solaris containers.

That same former Virtual Iron employee tells us that Oracle went after VI because its offering was more mature than Sun's. Like VI and Oracle VM, vXM Server is based on Xen.

Whatever Oracle does with Sun virtualization, you can bet it will tell the world it's all for the best. "A combined [Virtual Iron-Oracle VM] solution, of course, will be more feature rich," Coekaerts said today. "Hopefully, the partners here on this call, in the VI world, will join us in promoting Oracle VM and the joint product in the future as well. Everyone will win from the acquisition." ®

Bootnote

In January 2008, Virtual Iron hired former Sun man Sandeep Bhagi as its vice president of corporate developer and business alliances. On his LinkedIn profile, his job duties include "Designing and executing a successful Exit Strategy" - and he succinctly points out that this was recently accomplished. One wonders if that was on his duty list from the very beginning. If it was, that's something unlikely to raise of the spirits of VI partners and customers.

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