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BEA To Shift Into Virtualization Software

Looking to capitalize on the burgeoning growth of virtualization software, infrastructure software provider BEA Systems  will unveil a virtualized version of its WebLogic application server, internetnews.com has learned.

BEA said in a note, viewed by internetnews.com, that the company plans to announce that its WebLogic software will run on hypervisor software, as part of a strategy and roadmap for virtualizing Java applications to be unveiled at its BEAWorld conference in Beijing next month.

Virtualization software, in which multiple applications or operating systems run on fewer physical machines, is set to explode in the coming years. Its growth is already accelerating, for very basic reasons.

Running several pieces of software, whether they are multiple instances of one OS or Windows, Solaris and Linux on a box, can slash hardware costs and conserve space and power in data centers.

The hypervisor , which partitions several operating systems on one processor, lies at the heart of this movement.

BEA's initiative will include WebLogic Server Virtual Edition (WLS-VE) 1.0, an application server that will help "Java applications to run directly on a hypervisor without a standard operating system," according to BEA.

"Unlike Oracle and IBM, which require an OS underneath their virtualization stack, BEA is removing the OS out of the equation," BEA said in the statement. "The software simply sits on top of a Java shell," meaning better performance and lower costs.

BEA refused to comment for this story.

If BEA customers could use the WLS-VE to run multiple Java applications on one hypervisor, it could greatly reduce the congestion created in modern service-oriented architectures (SOA) , where several disparate pieces of software traverse different networks in order to communicate purchase orders, or other critical tasks.

Pund-IT analyst Charles King said BEA's entrance into virtualization isn't a surprise.

At the recent VMware World show in Los Angeles, King said he noted that Microsoft, BEA and Oracle were thinking of creating "virtualized appliances," whereby traditional server appliances, including e-mail servers and security appliances, would be replaced by virtual machines.

"I wonder if what we're seeing with BEA, with the buzz that's going on around virtualization right now, is that the company is trying to get out ahead of the curve with their own virtualized version of their product so that they can have more control over not just their product but on the market buzz," King said.

Being among the first of the applicaton server makers to announce such a product could put BEA in the driver's seat for its applications, rather than simply being an add-on to a product like VMware's lines, King said of the virtualization software provider.

King suggested a virtual app server capable of running on top of the hypervisors can power the SOA and Web services  applications the company hopes to run.

He also said the next question would be what hypervisors BEA's WLS-VE would run on.

VMware features a hypervisor in its ESX Server. IBM uses one in its mainframe and System p servers. XenSource's offers an open source alternative.

Microsoft  is building a hypervisor that will run Windows and Linux software on the same server, specifically running Linux adapted for Xen, such as Red Hat's and Novell's  SuSe Linux systems.

At the recent Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Gartner analyst John Enck and George Weiss said Microsoft's hypervisor will ship in 2007 or 2008.

The hypervisor is where the next Windows vs. Linux battle will play out, Enck and Weiss said, because hypervisors offer so many more opportunities for businesses to consolidate servers and cut costs.

"This is a crucial area for Microsoft and the Linux world distributors to hone in on... and may be the decisive factor about where users are leaning in one direction or another depending on what kind of capabilities they can get out of that operating system and serve their environment," Weiss said during a presentation.

BEA is also expected to unveil BEA WebLogic Server 10.0, BEA Workshop for WebLogic 10.0, BEA JRockit Mission Control Suite 2.0 and Tuxedo 9.1 at BEAWorld in Beijing, the company said.