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BEA adds OS Features to Java in WebLogic Server Virtual Edition

BEA Systems is shipping a version of WebLogic Server that can run on VMWare without an OS.

BEA Systems is this week shipping WebLogic Server Virtual Edition, a Java application server designed to run directly on VMware, no operating system necessary. The lower-level OS functionality such as deviice drivers are handled by VMware, the higher-level functions like memory handling and I/O by LiquidVM, BEA's new Java virtual machine (JVM.)

The product marks an important first step, and highlights why Microsoft is anxious to get into virtualization: Hypervisors like VMWare can actually make the OS unnecessary, in this case aided by Java's reliance on a VM. However, most customers will probably wait for the next version, due by the end of 2007. This will add support for the open-source Xen hypervisor (with support for Microsoft's following in 2008), and introduce BEA's new management system for JVMs and virtual servers within a SOA.

In the long term, virtualization will clearly be important for SOA, mostly because of agility --- something that BEA's Liquid naming is supposed to emphasize. The idea is that just as SOA makes services and applications more flexible, virtualization does the same for the underlying resources, allowing CPUs and memory to be quickly allocated to whichever services are needed in an mashup or composite application.

What's less clear is how BEA's approach will compare to that of competitors IBM, Microsoft and Sun, who don't want to abandon Linux, Windows and Solaris. BEA says that eliminating the OS can boost performance by 25-50%, but this hasn't yet been proven. Other vendors may be able to achieve similar efficiency savings simply by cutting out the parts of an OS that aren't needed for SOA or a particular application, something Microsoft can do with Windows and anyone can do with Linux.

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