Oracle ups server virtualization ante with Oracle VM 3.1

New capabilities in free server virtualization/management solution improve ease-of-use, storage availability, backup support, and hardware compatibility

If VMware has become synonymous with server virtualization and Microsoft continues to make inroads with its Hyper-V platform within the small-business market and Citrix can gain traction for XenServer by leveraging its large XenApp fan base -- where does that leave Oracle and its server virtualization platform, Oracle VM?

Ever since Oracle acquired Virtual Iron and Sun xVM back in 2009, the company has been quietly evolving Oracle VM in order to move to the big stage where it could hopefully compete head-on with the Big 3 server virtualization players: Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware. Now Oracle has announced the latest release of its free server virtualization and management solution, Oracle VM Server for x86, Release 3.1. The new version is designed to support rapid application deployment and simplify data center management from applications to disk.

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According to the company, Oracle VM 3.1 offers a new GUI design that is engineered for faster execution of workflow and maximizes ease-of-use and reduces deployment time. It does so by providing quicker access to common tasks with improved wizards and step-by-step instructions. It also offers new capabilities designed to improve storage availability, backup support, and hardware compatibility.

"Making it easier to deploy and manage enterprise applications in the data center and cloud is the driver behind Oracle's application-driven approach to virtualization," said Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president of Oracle Linux and virtualization.

Coekaerts added, "Oracle VM 3.1 introduces a number of user interface enhancements designed to improve ease-of-use for administrators, and storage-related features that can increase flexibility when migrating virtual machine storage repositories. With this new release, customers should find it significantly easier to manage their applications and virtual environments and at the same time lower their cost."

Administrators will be happy to hear that the Oracle VM 3.1 updates provide additional flexibility and broader options in their deployments. The latest release has been updated with Xen hypervisor 4.1.2 and incorporates enhanced paravirtual (PV) drivers that extend support to a much broader range of the latest server and storage hardware on the market. It also provides integration of the latest release of Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel release 2, enabling support for larger server hardware with up to 4TB of memory. And the virtualization implementation has also now been validated as part of the Microsoft Server Virtualization Vendor Program (SVVP) which means Microsoft customers will be able to receive technical support for Windows Servers deployed in Oracle VM environments.

Some of the other notable enhancements that made its way into this release include:

  • Hot-add vCPUs. Virtual CPUs can be added on-the-fly to a running virtual machine if the guest operating system supports this function. This capability gives an administrator the power to direct additional resources to a VM when needed without incurring downtime because of a forced reboot.
  • Move or clone virtual machines and templates. Moving a VM allows for deployment of the VM to a different repository while preserving all of its configuration parameters. Cloning a VM will create a bootable copy of the VM with a different MAC address so that it can be immediately booted without causing a conflict with the original.
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