Sun, VMware join forces

Virtualization giant VMware scored a major partnership last week when Sun Microsystems announced it would deliver VMware's software onto Sun Fire x64 servers and the StorEdge 6920.

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Sun Microsystems Inc. has finally jumped on the VMware bandwagon.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company recently partnered with virtualization giant VMware to deliver its full line of server virtualization capabilities onto Sun Fire x64 servers and the StorEdge 6920 system.

Sun has also agreed to provide support for the Solaris 10 operating system as a guest OS on future VMware server and desktop products.

Industry experts said the move is a nod to virtualization's growing influence and is a sign Sun is listening to its customer base.

Virtualization -- the use of software to emulate multiple operating environments on a single machine -- has taken off as an emerging data center tool over the last few years.

Perhaps no one in the marketplace has capitalized on the trend as much as VMware, which leads the space in market share. According to the company, a subsidiary of EMC Corp., business has doubled every year for the last four years.

Data center managers are attracted to virtualization because it helps shops better utilize their hardware capabilities. Companies can also use it to provision new services, change the amount of resources dedicated to a software service and consolidate disparate systems.

Gordon Haff, analyst with Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata, said he believes Sun's move to offer VMware on its boxes is a direct response to its customers, many of whom are seeking a more scalable, higher quality means of virtualizing with Sun hardware.

Sun offers its own version of virtualization with Solaris 10 called Solaris Containers, but it only allows users to run multiple versions of Solaris 10, not operating systems from other vendors.

"Now that Sun has an active x86 line -- Solaris focused, but supporting Linux and Windows, too -- VMware becomes an option. To be sure, Sun will likely still promote its own Solaris Containers as the preferred means of splitting up servers, but now it can offer VMware as an alternative for customers who want full [virtual machines] and other VMware capabilities like VMotion and Virtual Center," Haff said.

Sun's senior director of x64 systems, Graham Lovell, said the partnership acknowledges what many in the market already knew -- that VMware has become very popular on x86 servers. And Sun is selling quite a few of those these days.

"This is a hot space … as processors get faster and faster, customers are looking at ways of [better] utilizing their servers, and virtualization will help them get more from their machines … this improves value of their hardware," Lovell said. "If someone was thinking about deploying VMware, they probably weren't thinking about Sun."

VMware ESX server is available immediately on the Sun Fire x64 servers, either directly from Sun or from resellers.

"Sun is an interesting addition … they are an established player in the data center, and from our point of view, they are a very respected vendor," said Brian Byun, vice president of strategic alliances for VMware. "We really see this as step forward in the virtualization market, which is still young but growing very rapidly."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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