Oracle Corp. tried to ease the concerns of discontented Virtual Iron customers on Tuesday with a company Webcast, laying out the advantages and future direction of its jointly integrated Oracle VM software suite. But with Oracle VM migration expected to be difficult and full VI functionality not ready anytime soon, industry experts are advising VI users to start looking elsewhere.
Almost immediately after purchasing the server virtualization vendor in May, CEO Larry Ellison and company decided to kill off the VI portfolio. The company made the announcement via a letter to VI sales partners, indicating that it was suspending development work and delivery of the product to new customers.
The quick decision to end-of-life VI was met with enough backlash by jilted customers that Oracle actually took the time to clarify its position.
“We didn’t say we would stop supporting customers, we just said we wouldn’t sell the product anymore,” said Wim Coekaerts, vice-president of Linux and virtualization engineering at Oracle, adding that Virtual Iron users will receive support for as long as they wish to run the software.
In addition to that promise, Oracle also laid out its roadmap for the Oracle VM platform. The company will partially integrate some of VI’s dynamic capacity and power management capabilities into Oracle VM 2.2, with plans for full integration in Oracle VM 3.0.
While both products are expected to become available before the end of Oracle’s fiscal 2010, the company didn’t offer any solace for customers in the meantime. In response to numerous questions about future migration from VI customers on the Webcast, Oracle offered little advice other than asking users to call Oracle’s sales department and consider deploying Oracle VM side-by-side with current VI software.
“If full integration doesn’t happen until Oracle VM 3.0, then VI customers using those features will be left hanging,” said Andi Mann, vice-president of research for Enterprise Management Associates Inc. “Meanwhile, Oracle support for those customers is not going to be forward-looking, pay no attention to development requests, and at best, keep a holding pattern. And with a reportedly high attrition rate from VI, I suspect even that level of support will be poor.”
To add more insult to injury for some VI customers, Oracle admitted that migration to Oracle VM is “not going to be seamless” and will require more than “just a software upgrade.” But with other virtualization vendors — some offering big discounts to snatch away VI customers — waiting in the wings, Coekaerts did assure VI users that Oracle will develop migration tools to ease the process.
Gary Chen, research manager of enterprise virtualization software at IDC Corp., said that while Oracle’s decision to consolidate the virtualization platforms is a practical one given VI’s modest install base, the company will need to deliver strong migration tools and services to avoid further alienating VI’s base.