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Oracle Deepens Virtual Application Plans - InternetNews.
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Oracle Deepens Virtual Application Plans

Do enterprise apps make for good virtual appliance apps? According to enterprise software vendor Oracle, they sure do, but they need to have the right technology behind them.

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) today unveiled a new open source technology called Oracle VM Template Builder, which enables users to build their own virtual software appliances.

"When you talk about the virtual appliance market, much of the uses in the past have been focused on development and demo environments," Monica Kumar, senior director for Linux and open source product marketing at Oracle, told InternetNews.com. "What we're talking about is real production enterprise software. We're talking about really popular, well-deployed enterprise software that is in production. This is meant to enable and speed the deployment of enterprise applications."

The graphical utility uses the Oracle VM virtualization technology and a minimal JeOS ("Just Enough Operating System") version of Oracle's Linux operating system.

Oracle first released its Oracle VM virtualization hypervisor technology in 2007, and it is based on the open source Xen hypervisor. Last year, Oracle began its Oracle VM Templates program, which provides users with pre-built Oracle software virtual appliances.

Now with the Oracle VM Template Builder, Oracle is opening up its virtualization technology to build software appliances for any type of software.

Sitting underneath the hypervisor technology is Oracle's JeOS, which Kumar explained is a version of Oracle's Enterprise Linux tailored specifically for Oracle VM template.

"Basically, it is something that is only applicable for building Oracle VM templates," Kumar said. "It is not something that we directly support for users to deploy as an operating system."

Competition looming

The new offering launches Oracle into the competitive market for virtual appliance creation, which now includes VMware, Novell and rPath.

While VM Template Builder is installed locally, other competitive virtual appliance building services are available as online Software-as-a-Service or cloud services.

Linux vendor Novell recently launched its online virtual appliance building service SUSE Studio application, while rPath Linux has had a similar service in market for several years.

That hasn't deterred Oracle, however.

"This is only the beginning for us," Kumar said. "It has only been a year and a half since we announced Oracle VM. Last year, we focused on creating templates of just Oracle software, and now we are taking the next step and we're helping ISVs build templates for their software. We're just taking one step at a time and this is a good first step for us."

Kumar said the VM Builder program is a free development tool and there is no charge to ISVs to use the software -- Oracle considers the virtual appliance just another deployment mechanism. Instead, enterprise software subscriptions and support for the actual applications is where money might change hands.

As part of its virtualization push, Oracle is also adding Oracle VM to its Oracle Validated Configuration program, which is a guide to best practices for deployment.

"What that means is that our best practices are no longer just for physical infrastructure, but we are also providing best practices for virtual software deployment," Kumar said. "The way Oracle looks at virtualization is part of a complete application deployment solution."