Sun sets date for Ops Center release

Sun will release its new Ops Center virtualization management console on Dec. 10 under the open-source GPLv3 license

Sun Microsystems announced a pair of release dates for xVM Ops Center 1.0, its new virtualization management console.

The company plans to release Ops Center under the open-source GPLv3 license, it said Tuesday. Its community site is at Sun said it will begin uploading Ops Center-related source code to the site on Dec. 10, and expects to release the first commercial version on Jan. 8.

While the software will be available as a free download, support comes with a price tag. Sun said support and service subscriptions will begin at $100 per managed server and go up to $350.

Sun's xVM line, which it began promoting earlier this year, also includes xVM Server, a hypervisor based on the open-source Xen project. It will be released in the second quarter of 2008, according to Oren Teich, director of marketing for xVM.

The company is entering a crowded virtualization space dominated by VMWare, but Teich said Sun believes there is nonetheless ample opportunity for newer players: "The market is in a maturity model now. ... it's in the very, very early days."

Two existing Sun products make up part of Ops Center: N1 System Manager, for provisioning, and Sun Connection, for patch management. A key piece of new functionality for Ops Center is a browser-based user interface, which Sun said is easier to use.

"We believe the shift really occurring is really not just in [virtualization] technology, but the technology and the management," said Teich, who characterized the company's virtualization play as "a multiyear plan for Sun, in which we're bringing quite a few pieces together."

Ops Center 1.0 supports Solaris and Linux. Windows support is coming, but Teich couldn't name a specific date.

Forrester Research analyst James Staten said Sun has put together a package that may have some value for customers. "The most compelling piece that Solaris admins will be excited about is the patch manager," he wrote in an e-mail message to IDG News Service. "It greatly simplifies this painful process and ensures patching success."

But Staten said the new UI may have limited appeal despite its modern looks. "It's cool for a Solaris admin tool, which is saying a lot in this realm but not saying a lot in the broader market context," he said. "It's easy to use, but let's remember that most Solaris sysadmins are command line guys, so they may not use the UI."

Overall, Sun's virtualization offerings may be most welcomed in familiar territory, according to Staten: "They are making a case that Solaris customers will back up, which is that a hypervisor backed by Solaris should be more robust, secure and reliable than one based on Linux, and they are making forward-looking statements that imply that some of the very cool features of Solaris 10 will be integrated with xVM."

Such a move would make xVM "differentiated and compelling for Solaris-centric or Solaris-only environments," he said.