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10 September 2008, 16:51

Sun bundles its xVM virtualisation package

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xVM architecture
Zoom Sun's virtualisation system with xVM Server for x86 architectures uses Solaris in dom0
Almost simultaneously with Microsoft, Sun Microsystems has bundled its virtualisation package, which allows multiple operating system instances on a single machine. As well as VirtualBox 2.0, released as an appetiser six days ago, xVM also includes xVM Server, xVM Ops Center 2.0 and xVM Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

In contrast to other Xen implementations, in xVM Sun uses its own Solaris x86 operating system as the control instance in 'dom0'. This means users have access to special features such as dynamic file system ZFS and analysis tool Dtrace.

It is not clear which version of the Xen hypervisor Sun is using – the current version is 3.3. Sun's xVM Server provides the means for operating the physical platform, the x86 CPUs, memory, storage and network for virtual machines under Windows, Linux and Solaris. The environment runs on platforms with Intel and AMD processors and uses their virtualisation technologies. By contrast, on Sun's Sparc system only technologies integrated into Solaris, such as Container and Logical Domains (LDOMs) are available.

Deployment in professional environments requires an intuitive management application to keep the work required to get administrators up to speed to a reasonable level. Open source application Xen does have APIs, but due to a lack of finished tools has difficulty holding its own against market leader VMware. Sun's xVM Ops Center 2.0 is aimed at remedying this. Up to now, only Virtual Iron and Citrix' Xen Source have offered management systems for Xen – both, however, require Linux as the control system in dom0. Sun's Ops Center is broader in scope. Originally designed as a management system for Sun servers and using Integrated Lights Out Management (ILOM) for hardware monitoring, even for switched off systems, it can also detect and manage virtual machines.

Sun is doggedly sticking to its strategy of releasing its software as open source. Interested parties can download xVM Server and xVM Ops Center, for free. The source code is licensed under the Gnu Public License 3 (GPL) while binaries are licensed for non-commercial and evaluation use. Virtualbox 2.0 is licensed under Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL), its source code under GPL 2. In order to download Sun's xVM VDI, users must agree to a special license, as this component includes software from former SCO subsidiary Tarantella. According to Sun, the complete xVM package can be supplied for professional deployment. Licensing costs are charged on a per year per physical platform basis. Costs are $500 for the xVM Server and $100 to $350 for xVM Open Center, depending on the number of system to be managed.


Steve Wilson, vice president at Sun and responsible for xVM, gave a time line for binarty releases in his blog saying "We're aiming for a generally available binary release from EA in about 30 days and a release candidate (for final testing by the community) within 60 days."


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