As Sun Microsystems tries to move past the IBM acquisition talk, the company just announced the release of Sun VirtualBox 2.2, its free and open source virtualization software. The latest release incorporates support for the Open Virtualization Format (OVF), a standard created by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMFT) initiative. OVF enables virtual machines or virtual appliances to easily be imported and exported. Support for OVF also helps to ensure VirtualBox 2.2 software is interoperable with other technologies that follow the standard.
Sun touted the growth of the use of VirtualBox, stating it has had more than 11 million downloads worldwide since October 2007. And during that time, there were also 3.5 million registrations, which provided over 25,000 downloads of the product per day. Impressive numbers, but will Sun have a difficult time translating those numbers into production, enterprise environments? How many of these downloads are end-users only? According to Sun, the tool has been greatly accepted in the developer world.
"VirtualBox has always been a fantastic tool for developers to create multiple virtual machines, network them together and deploy them using nearly any operating system," said Jim McHugh, vice president for datacenter software marketing at Sun. "Now, with the new import and export features of the VirtualBox 2.2 release, users can quickly and easily put their development environments into production -- on the desktop, the server or even in the cloud."
Some of the new features found in this release include optimizations for the software, which makes it the fastest version of the product to date, and Sun also increased 3-D graphics acceleration for Linux and Solaris applications by using the OpenGL standard. To help with guest performance, it increased the maximum memory size available for guest operating systems to 16GB.
In addition, VirtualBox 2.2 now supports Apple's upcoming 64-bit Snow Leopard platform. Also new is a new host-interface networking mode, which should make it easier to run server applications within a virtual machine.
Sun VirtualBox 2.2 is going to be compared with and find itself going up against products like VMware Workstation and Parallels Workstation. And while you can't beat the fact that it is free and open source, it could be missing some of the key features needed in today's enterprise environment -- specifically speaking, VMware's use of Linked Clones. As storage space continues to climb, features like Linked Clones and differencing disks off of base VMDKs will continue to prove itself a high-value offering.
Again, for personal use, the software is free of charge. For larger deployments within a business, subscriptions are being made available starting at $30 per user per year, and that includes support from Sun's technical team.