The rumors are true. Oracle has finally announced that its intent to acquire Virtual Iron for its virtual server management capabilities.

It's a nice fit for Oracle, which has its own Xen-based virtualization platform called Oracle VM. Up until now, Virtual Iron has been selling its management tools on its own Xen-derived hypervisor. The net result is that Oracle gets dynamic resource management, power management, and better virtual server capabilities. And since Virtual Iron was built to manage Xen-based systems, the integration should be done by lunchtime on the day of the acquisition.

The acquisition brings up some larger questions, however, such as how Oracle will integrate Oracle VM, Oracle Enterprise Manager, and Virtual Iron Sun's xVM Server and xVM Ops Center. Now that it will supply hardware and virtualization platforms, Oracle will need to build out a stronger system management and automation portfolio.

Today Oracle's virtualization tools don't have much traction in the market when compared with VMware or Microsoft. Prior to the acquisition of Sun, I would have said it was unlikely Oracle would become a general purpose virtualization platform, with a few die-hard Oracle customers using it for their Oracle apps. Combining three Xen contenders may position Oracle as the strongest Xen player, to the detriment of Citrix. Now, it seems more likely that Oracle can become a true platform vendor — especially if it uses virtual appliances to distribute its products. We think virtual appliances make it easier to consume operating environments that you aren't accustomed to managing. You don't have to be a Linux expert to boot a VM with a preconfigured Linux OS and Oracle running on it. If done properly with automatic updates and a web interface, you would never even have to know what was running underneath.

More information can be found on Oracle's web site:

By James Staten and Galen Schreck

Check out James' research and Galen's research.