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Sun Unveils Virtualization Platform

The xVM Server is based on the open source Xen hypervisor and includes a minimized version of Solaris.

Sun Microsystems on Thursday unveiled its virtualization platform, a combination hypervisor and management tool that the company plans to start rolling out in December.

Sun xVM will initially comprise a server and the Ops Center management system, which together provide a "turnkey virtualization environment," Marc Hamilton, VP of Solaris marketing, told reporters at a meeting in San Francisco. Sun also met with reporters in London and Boston.

The platform will challenge VMware, which in 2005 accounted for 55% of the total revenue from virtual machine software, according to IDC, and remains a market leader. VMware is owned by systems management vendor EMC, which sold 10% of the company in August in one of the year's hottest initial public offerings. The sale raised $957 million for future expansion and development.

Sun did not seem fazed by the competition. Hamilton said the virtualization software market is young, representing only 15% of the total number of server instances. "We think there's room in the market for alternatives," Hamilton said.

The xVM Server is based on the open source Xen hypervisor and includes a minimized version of Solaris. A hypervisor is a software layer that sits on top of the server hardware and manages the operating systems running in the virtualized environment. In essence, the hypervisor is a kind of universal OS.

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