Opting to go one-up in virtualization, Oracle ingests Virtual Iron

The company already has a decent hypervisor in Oracle VM, and more options on the way as the Sun buy comes to pass, but Oracle is apparently looking to upgrade its toolset. The company announced on Wednesday that it's acquiring Virtual Iron (nee Katana Technology), which offers a hypervisor with an interesting and speedy set of system tools. It's expected that those tools will be combined with the current Oracle offering.

Virtual Iron has in recent years been overtaken by big-iron (Citrix, VMWare, Microsoft) interest in the category, but the company brought some interesting policy-based and modular thinking to the table. Past and current customers include Priceline.com, Sandia National Labs, Siemens, Toyota, Hitachi and the office of the Maine Attorney General.

As Virtual Iron's offerings stand today, there's an emphasis on dynamic management, scalability and automation, with modules such as LiveMigrate, which moves virtual machines from one physical server to another without requiring a service interruption. Other on-the-fly management tools include LiveMaintenance, LiveCapacity, and LiveRecovery.

CPU and storage capacity and power-management issues are strong points for Oracle, especially with Citrix and VMware both having announced similar features in their own competitive products. The product also includes better potential integration of VMs with the rest of the server setup thanks to scriptable APIs. The management application is Web-based and "zero-touch" for the physical servers once the installation of the Virtualization manager was complete.

Testing by ESG Lab last year revealed revealed a speedy wizard-based installation process that reviewers described as "straightforward and easy," and the software got good marks overall for being simple and intuitive to use. The lab evaluation spoke favorably of Virtual Iron's support for both virtual and physical storage, along with capabilities such as snapshots, remote replication and multi-path failover, and recommended that small- and medium-sized businesses in particular would do well to look at Virtual Iron for their virtualization needs.

Terms of acquisition for the privately held Virtual Iron were not revealed. Oracle says that information on the fate of the existing Virtual Iron roadmap will be released later in the year. Barring obstacles, the acquisition should conclude this summer; meanwhile, the two companies are operating separately and support for Virtual Iron's current customers and products continues.

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