Call it the final (major) piece of the puzzle as Oracle looks to re-invent itself as an all-purpose enterprise solutions provider. The company announced late yesterday that it was buying out Virtual Iron for an undisclosed sum.
While such a deal had been in the rumor mill for several weeks, it nonetheless speaks volumes about the commitment Oracle has made to compete on the same level as IBM, Cisco and others.
Oracle, of course, already had a working virtualization platform called Oracle VM (natch). But what it didn't have were the advanced management features that have become crucial components of the leading platforms as users' virtual environments gain in complexity. Virtual Iron brings in tools like CPU and storage capacity management, power management, plus a nifty set of scriptable APIs for tying virtual machines to physical server management platforms.
Integration will probably be the key issue going forward, according to Forrester's James Staten. Bringing VI into the Oracle platform should be no problem, considering they are both Xen-based systems. But how, exactly, do they plan to integrate the VI-enhanced Oracle VM and Enterprise Manager with Sun's xVM Server and Ops Center? It seems that the company will still need to bolster its own management and automation portfolios. Of course, when it does all come together, it should make one heck of a virtual appliance.
But let's not overlook the impact this deal will have on the other main virtualization players: Citrix/Microsoft and VMware. While the loss of a competitor is usually a good thing, in this case it's important to note that, first off, VI was never a strong competitor to begin with, and second, it isn't really going anywhere. In fact, teaming up with Oracle makes VI an even bigger threat because now it has the hardware and software support to give the leaders a real run for their money. The only question is who will take the bigger hit when there are three major virtualization platforms in the channel.
Despite its patchy record, Oracle has always placed a high premium on innovation and forward thinking. Larry Ellison and Co. have apparently realized that they didn't have much of a future as a straight business software company. Enterprises are in need of solutions these days, not just technology. And the quickest way to become a solutions provider is to go out and buy what you don't have.