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BEA adds OS Features to Java in WebLogic Server Virtual Edition

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.