Oracle tries to ease concerns of Virtual Iron customers

Oracle Corp. is trying to reassure customers of Virtual Iron, the virtualization company it bought in May, as rivals like VMware push discount offers in hopes of capitalizing on any uncertainty.

Teams are working to combine Virtual Iron's dynamic resource management and rapid server provisioning capabilities with Oracle VM, as well as to integrate the technology with Oracle Enterprise Manager, said Wim Coekaerts, vice president of Linux and virtualization engineering, during a webcast for customers.

"This is going to be an incredibly strong stack from top to bottom," he said.

The first results of this effort will come in Oracle VM 2.2, scheduled for release in Oracle's current fiscal year, which ends May 31, 2010. Full integration will come later in the fiscal year with Oracle VM 3.0, Coekaerts said. More specific dates weren't available.

Meanwhile, Oracle stopped selling the Virtual Iron product on June 30, and it is no longer available for download. Customers are being forced to remain on current versions unless they've already bought a newer one and simply haven't implemented it yet.

The company has also halted development on Virtual Iron's software in order to let engineers focus on the integration work, according to Coekaerts.

"By doing these things we'll be able to get the new product out sooner ... some of this might seem difficult, but we feel that we've made the right decisions," he said.

Virtual Iron had about 2,000 customers as of April 2008. Customers who move to Oracle VM won't incur new license costs, because the software itself is downloadable for no charge.

Oracle makes money by charging for support, using a pricing model tied to the number of server cores in use.

For customers who decide to migrate to Oracle VM, the process "will not be seamless," Coekaerts said. "[You will] not just run an upgrade on an existing Virtual Iron product and be done."

Oracle is working on a migration tool to help lessen those chores, but it won't be available until after the 2.2 release.

Customers who are reluctant to stop using their VI products can get support from Oracle indefinitely, but this offer may have limited utility given the lack of product updates. For example, Oracle won't even be adding new hardware device driver support.

Existing VI implementations are also essentially frozen in size, given that Oracle is no longer selling the product.

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