Oracle announced on Wednesday an agreement to acquire Virtual Iron.
The tech giant describes Virtual Iron as a "leading provider of server virtualization management software." In this context, however, "leading" should be read: on the roster but something like fourth-string backup quarterback.
Oracle's statement in advance of a conference call:
The combination of Virtual Iron technology and Oracle VM's scalable, high performance and highly available server virtualization product is expected to provide more comprehensive and dynamic resource management across the full software stack. Customers are expected to benefit from rapid application deployment, streamlined virtualization server configuration and improved visibility and control across Oracle's enterprise software stack. In addition, we anticipate that the combination of Virtual Iron technology with Oracle Enterprise Manager will enable customers to be more agile in meeting application service levels for virtual environments.
The concept that Oracle is looking to beef up its in-house virtualization assets is not especially surprising. What is less expected is that Oracle would make this acquisition on the heels of its purchase of Sun Microsystems--which has considerable in-house virtualization assets of its own. (Here's an in-depth report on it that I wrote last year; registration required.)
The presentation that Oracle sent with the announcement focuses on what Virtual Iron brings in terms of "dynamic virtual data center management." Specifically, Oracle states that Virtual Iron adds dynamic resource management and automation, including capacity management, power management, and the ability to integrate with other software through an open, comprehensive, and scriptable API.
To be sure, both Sun's and Lowell Mass.-based Virtual Iron's virtualization portfolios are based on the open-source Xen project, so they're at least potentially complementary. However, these capabilities would seem to overlap Sun's xVM Ops Center to at least a certain degree.
Oracle hasn't so far discussed Virtual Iron's role with respect to channel strategy. Sun, like Oracle itself, offers products that have very much an enterprise flavor. Virtual Iron, by contrast, has in recent years primarily focused on the midmarket--smaller companies that didn't necessarily have the best fit with the sophistication (and complications) of products from the likes of VMware. So there seems at least the potential here for Oracle to expand its reach down-market--perhaps in conjunction with parts of Sun's open-source stack such as MySQL.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, suggesting that this was, unsurprisingly, a relatively cheap buy for Oracle.