Feeds

Sun VirtualBox gets live migration

EU grudge list candidate

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The clever techies behind Sun Microsystems' VirtualBox hypervisor just keep plugging away on improving the product, as if the $7.4bn Oracle acquisition had not happened and as if Oracle will have anything useful to do with VirtualBox other than sit on it and keep it out of a rival's hands when the deal gets approved by the European Union's antitrust regulators.

Considering that VirtualBox came from a German company (Innotek) that Sun bought in February 2008 because its own Xen-based virtualization efforts were woefully behind, one could make an argument that just like Oracle getting its mitts on MySQL will thwart competition in the database market, Oracle taking control of Sun and therefore VirtualBox will also reduce competition in virtualization - and probably mean the end of the line for one of Sun's most popular programs.

(If popularity is measured by downloads, not money, as it certainly is with MySQL: VirtualBox has had 20 million downloads in the past two years, and is getting around 40,000 downloads a day.)

The irony, of course, is that with the release of VirtualBox 3.1 today, Sun's type 2 (or hosted) hypervisor is ready to play with the big boys even though the product is not a type 1 (or bare-metal) hypervisor. The ability to migrate live virtual machines around a network of PCs or servers is the killer feature that is driving a lot of server virtualization these days after an initial wave of virtualization-enabled consolidation of workloads.

Allowing for server and PC images to be teleported around physical machines, thereby allowing for maintenance of physical iron without shutting off applications and allowing for high availability failover of VMs, is something all companies need to be thinking about doing. Certainly for their servers and probably for their PCs.

According to the release notes and the updated manual for VirtualBox 3.1, this is what Sun is calling major release, and the live migration feature is the big change from the 3.0.8 release that was kicked out in mid-October.

This live migration can occur on any x86 or x64 machine, regardless of the underlying host operating system (which can be Solaris, Linux, or Windows) so long as there is some sort of TCP/IP link between the two boxes and they have access to the same iSCSI network storage array (accessible through NFS or Samba/CIFS).

For teleportation to work, you have to configure a virtual machine on a target box with the same basic virtual hardware settings as on the source box (memory, virtual processors, and so one), making sure the source and target boxes have "fairly similar CPUs," meaning you can't have Athlon or Opteron processors in one box and Core or Xeon chips in the other box unless you like error messages.

This is the same starting place where VMware's ESX Server and the open source Xen hypervisor was with live migration, although some hypervisors now allow for live migration between machines that just have local storage or different network storage so long as they have a network link.

VirtalBox 3.1 has a number of other tweaks. Sun says that optimizations in the memory handling parts of the hypervisor have improved its performance by 30 per cent over the prior release. The hypervisor has "significant performance improvements" for PAE and AMD64 guests using VT-x and AMD-V virtualization features. PAE is short for physical address extension, and it allows a hypervisor running on a 32-bit machine to address memory beyond 4GB and up to 64GB.

The network portions of the hypervisors have been buffed and polished too, delivering higher network throughput and gobbling up fewer CPU cycles. The 3.1 release also allows you to change the network attachment type in a running VM, which would have caused much consternation before. The update also has support for paravirtualized network adapters, support for reaching into Windows hosts and using its native drivers to do the video on guest VMs (thereby giving native performance), and the ability to restore a VM from an arbitrary snapshot instead of the last snapshot done by a user.

You can download VirtualBox 3.1 here. Sun charges $30 per year per machine for 24x7 technical support on a PC and $500 per year for every four sockets on a physical server. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Bitcasa bins $10-a-month Infinite storage offer
Firm cites 'low demand' plus 'abusers'
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.