Last Thursday, Oracle announced a major deal with rival hardware vendors Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The two computer hardware giants agreed to certify and resell Oracle VM (Oracle's flagship server virtualization offering based on the open source Xen hypervisor) as well as Oracle's Solaris and Enterprise Linux operating systems on their respective x86 server platforms.
Additionally, the deal stated that customers will have full access to Oracle's Premier Support for Oracle VM, Solaris, and Oracle Enterprise Linux running on Dell and HP servers, which should provide fast and accurate issue resolution and reduced risk in a company's operating environment. Customers who subscribe to Oracle Premier Support will also benefit from Oracle's continuing investment in these products and any innovations that come with future updates.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Convirture offers an updated solution to bridge the management gap on open source Xen and KVM platforms | Dell has released a new virtualization-based secure browser, thanks to its KACE acquisition. ]
But this announcement also creates an interesting twist considering that Oracle recently adopted a new tagline after the company's acquisition of Sun Microsystems that reads, "Software. Hardware. Complete." Bringing together all of its resources, Oracle has been able to promote the idea of its own end-to-end computing stack that can be offered to consumers.
To help put this notion of a single vendor offering into perspective, Oracle states on its website: "Oracle's product strategy provides flexibility and choice to our customers across their IT infrastructure. Now, with Sun server, storage, operating-system, and virtualization technology, Oracle is the only vendor able to offer a complete technology stack in which every layer is integrated to work together as a single system."
Despite the claim, Oracle isn't alone in this converged data center quest for world domination. What one company calls vendor lock-in, another calls virtualization-ready converged infrastructure. Looking at the positive side of things, the big vendors have been providing a major push on creating and offering virtualization hardware and software bundles that are preconfigured and ready to go for rapid deployment without the need for in-house virtualization or cloud architecture expertise.
However, this tends to come at a price of moving away from best-of-breed solutions. Yes, some consumers fear that it could again lead to vendor lock-in -- the very thing that server virtualization was supposed to help prevent in the first place by abstracting away the underlying hardware technology. But for companies without the necessary expertise in-house, vendor lock-in may not be that major of a hurdle to overcome; instead, it could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
There are several such initiatives on the market today, and Oracle certainly won't be the last to join the party. One of the first offerings and perhaps the most vocal example is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), made up of Cisco servers and networking hardware with virtualization software from VMware and storage provided by EMC. Those three vendors have also come together to create what is known as the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition, which offer preconfigured virtualization hardware and software bundles called vBlock Infrastructure Packages.
Rival HP did not sit around idle for very long (read: one day). After Cisco's new coalition was announced, HP announced its own converged infrastructure bundle made up of its own BladeSystem Matrix and ProLiant hardware, as well as partnerships with VMware and Microsoft on the server virtualization software side.
Today, Oracle VM has a very small percentage of the server virtualization market share, so anything that makes it easier for a company to acquire the technology can only help Oracle at this point. So what's in it for Dell and HP? Well, as was stated above, not everyone is looking for a simple, converged infrastructure. Many people still want choice, and both Dell and HP seem intent, at least at this stage, to provide those consumers with choice.
According to the announcement, Joyce Mullen, vice president of global alliances for Dell, stated, "Our joint customers will be able to leverage our award-winning servers and the software assets from Oracle to build out robust, dependable, and optimized IT platforms, helping them be more competitive while maximizing ROI on technology investments." Mullen added that it shows that Dell provides its customers with choice and flexibility by offering Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and Oracle VM as well as other operating systems on its x86 servers.
An HP executive put it this way: "Customers need to instantly adjust to dynamic business demands, but many have hardwired stacks of applications and infrastructure that can't rapidly change," said Paul Miller, vice president of solutions and strategic alliances, enterprise servers, storage, and networking at HP.
Miller went on to comment, "The combination of Oracle infrastructure software and HP ProLiant servers delivers outstanding performance, scalability, and virtualization capabilities on x86 servers."
With this announcement, Oracle VM now joins the ranks of VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer by becoming the fourth virtualization hypervisor platform to be made available as an out-of-the-box offering on multiple industry standard x86 servers.
So with this new reseller agreement in place, can Oracle expand its presence in the market to become a real server virtualization challenger? Or will it simply become just another checkbox? It certainly cannot hurt Oracle at this point. So let's see how much or how little this impacts Oracle's virtualization market share over the next year.
This story, "Dell, HP to certify and resell Oracle VM virtualization," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.