On Wednesday, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz announced a free open-source server virtualization and management platform dubbed Sun xVM. Sun says it will commit $2 billion in R&D spending to make Sun xVM a reality.
Hmm, good idea. The server virtualization market is on fire and it is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, it is maturing fast. According to ESG, of those organizations planning to deploy server virtualization, 28 percent of companies plan to deploy in the next six months, while 42 percent plan to deploy within the next year. That's a lot of deployment in the near future, which has to favor Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware over a newcomer like Sun.
Since Sun plans to base its Hypervisor on Xen open-source anyway, Sun would be wise to abandon internal plans and grab the remaining server virtualization independent Virtual Iron. This would make a ton of sense for several reasons:
1. Virtual Iron can already support Windows and Linux guests today. This would give Sun a product it can sell on day one while its developers focused on adding Solaris guest support.
2. Virtual Iron software is written in Java, a perfect fit for Sun's skills and strategy.
3. Virtual Iron's hypervisor has a number of enterprise features like hypervisor virtual machine mobility (a la VMware VMotion), high availability, and hardware resource management (a la VMware DRS). Sun's enterprise installed base will demand this type of enterprise functionality sooner rather than later.
Server virtualization could be a great opportunity for Sun, but time is short. VMware is rolling, Citrix is bringing XenServer to its customers and channel partners, and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Virtual Server is just around the corner. Buying Virtual Iron could be the shot in the arm that Sun needs to give it instant access to a growing and lucrative market.