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Oracle spells out VM tools plans

Still no word on Sun virtualisation though

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In the wake of its acquisition of Virtual Iron, and its hammering out of a converged roadmap for the Oracle VM Server variant of Xen hypervisor, Oracle's techies are still at work, making tools that wrap around the existing Oracle VM Server hypervisor to make it more useful.

First up is a gadget called Oracle VM Template Builder. This is a graphical utility that allows software developers or in-house IT departments to create a JEOS skinnied down version of Oracle Enterprise Linux. They can then plunk it and a set of system and application software on top of that streamlined Linux inside of an Oracle VM image.

JEOS, you will remember is pronounced "juice" and is short for Just Enough Operating System. It is an idea that was started by Canonical and its Ubuntu Linux distribution and quickly adopted by Novell for its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

With JEOS, you only pick and choose the elements of the Linux stack you need for a particular application set, but you can still get commercial support for the customized software from its corporate sponsor. Only a few weeks ago, Novell launched its online SUSE Studio tool for creating customized appliances from the SUSE repository and storing them inside VMware ESX Server wrappers.

Eventually, SUSE Studio will be able to create SUSE Linux appliances and spit them out in Amazon EC2 AMI images or on OVF 1.0 virtual machine formats.

While Oracle VM Template Builder has a graphical front end, if you like scripts and you already know about JEOS, you can build images using the command line as well. The tool can make images based on OEL 4.7 or 5.2 in 32-bit or 64-bit modes, depending on whether you have x86 or x64 iron.

The Oracle VM Template Builder can kick out virtual machine images in the native Oracle VM format (a variant of the native format used by the Xen hypervisor) or the OVF format, according to Monica Kumar, senior director of product marketing for Linux and open source products at Oracle.

The company does not have plans to support other Linuxes or other virtual machine formats or hypervisors on x64 iron with the Oracle VM Template Builder. It will almost certainly support the spinning of software appliances for Amazon EC2 images based on the Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM combo, however. Oracle doesn't seem inclined to create appliances based on Unix or Windows platforms, either, but this can, and likely will, change once Oracle has control of the Solaris Unix variant.

Speaking of which, Kumar was not at liberty to say anything about how Sun's xVM Server hypervisor and xVM OpsCenter management tool would play into its Oracle VM 3.0 roadmap for x64 iron, and was similarly mum about how Solaris containers (a kind of virtual private server, as distinct from a virtual machine) and logical domains (another kind of virtualisation that is available on the Sparc T series of chips) would play in Oracle's virtualisation push.

Oracle does, of course, support Windows, other Linuxes, Unix, and several proprietary operating systems when it comes to its database, middleware, and application software, but there seems little doubt that Oracle is going to be touting its complete control and integration of the software stack on Unix iron as a benefit, much as it is already doing on x64 iron with its Linux and VM software.

Oracle VM Template Builder is available now, and is being released through Oracle's Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN) and Oracle Technology Network. The tool was written in Python and is being open sourced, which means other Linux projects can appropriate it, much as Oracle has done with Linux and VM code.

You can get a list of existing templates that Oracle has already created for Oracle VM here, and you might notice that the new one on the list is the Siebel CRM 8.1.1 software from Oracle, which is packed up on Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle 11g database atop Oracle VM.

In a related announcement, Oracle says that Oracle VM Server is now added to the official validated configurations for Linux listing. The validated configuration seal of approval is not just for Oracle Enterprise Linux, but also for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and includes 145 different combinations of Oracle software mixed with those operating systems and with various hardware to run it all.

Now, deploying those Oracle applications in an Oracle VM wrapper is certified on specific servers and storage. The idea is to make it easier for customers to put together a solution and know it will work. ®

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