Sun Releases Virtualization Management Tool Under GPLv3

Company adopts open source strategy with its new xVM Ops Center solution

Sun Microsystems today announced the availability of the first component of its new virtualization platform, and laid out a roadmap for opening the platform's source code. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems company bills its xVM Ops Center virtualization management tool as a "highly scalable datacenter automation tool for complete management of heterogeneous global IT environments."

The importance of the announcement is that Sun is aiming to create a comprehensive management suite for IT, according to Michael Coté, software industry analyst with RedMonk.

"While the virtualization buzzword sort of takes all the glory here, it's important to realize that Sun xVM Ops Center is the beginning of a newly unified Sun IT management suite," Coté said. "This announcement is about more than just virtualization. Ops Center aims to manage both physical and virtual IT, provisioning, monitoring, and managing. Not all of that is fully fleshed out in this release -- the focus here is on provisioning and virtualization -- but a full IT management suite is the long-term plan."

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz officially unveiled xVM last month at the Oracle OpenWorld conference. Although Sun has been providing virtualization technology since the development of the Java virtual machine, xVM is the company's first foray into hypervisor-based virtualization. The xVM platform comprises the Ops Center and the xVM Server, an enterprise-grade, Xen-based hypervisor.

It will also be the first code Sun has released under version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3), said Oren Teich, director of marketing for Sun xVM.

GPLv3 is the latest version of the world's most popular open source license. The final draft of the license was released in June by the Free Software Foundation. It included language intended to prevent patent cross-licenses, such as the controversial Microsoft-Novell agreement, and restricts the so-called anti-tivoization clauses (prevents locking hardware to the stock firmware).

The xVM Ops Center will be released to the newly formed community, which went live shortly after the OpenWorld show. Sun will employ what Teich calls a multiphased approach to releasing the product to open source. The Common Agent Container source code will be available first on December 10. The rest will be available by the second quarter of 2008, he said. The commercial version of the product will be available on January 8.

Sun's decision to open the Ops Center source code is significant for several reasons, Coté noted.

"First, this delivers further on the Sun mandate to open source all of its software eventually," he said. "Second, if the open source IT management community likes the code, it'll be a large hunk of code to intermingle into that community. And third, opening up Sun's IT management suite, which has been fragmented and not well known, helps the existing community and new members elevate the overall profile of Ops Center and OpenxVM."

For more information on Sun xVM Ops Center, go here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at

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