Two years ago, Microsoft Hyper-V was a running joke in the virtualization space. Sure, it was a hypervisor, but it lacked just about everything that made VMware vSphere the predominant player in the space. It was written off by many as an unworthy and incapable competitor to the market leader, VMware.
In other news, Oracle has traditionally been quite strict about its support for its flagship software running on non-Oracle hypervisors. Oracle’s software is a staple for many CIOs, so the lack of support for the industry-leading hypervisor has left many in a quandary and others virtualizing it on non-Oracle hyprvisors anyway.
The winds of change
In what is good news for both those interested in Hyper-V and those interested in running Oracle on a third-party, supported virtualization platform, Microsoft and Oracle have announced a partnership which allows customers to run fully supported instances of Oracle’s database and WebLogic server, as well as Java, on Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines and in Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. In addition, Oracle will make Oracle Linux available for use on Windows Azure.
In fact, Oracle’s newly updated My Oracle Support Note 1563794.1, entitled Certified Software on Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, now includes the statement “All Oracle products certified to run on Windows Server are also certified to run on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, whether used in a private cloud or public cloud (including Windows Azure).”
As an aside, there is a little bit more of anecdotal good news for Hyper-V. This morning, at a seminar on backup and recovery – not focused on any one hypervisor – 47% of the room’s participants indicated that they are running Hyper-V. Microsoft has come a very long way with Hyper-V 2012. Of course this is just one small data point, but it’s one of a few that have popped up recently, and the aggregate seems to indicate positive momentum for Microsoft.
Is this partnership being made as a part of a new chapter for Oracle supporting its products in virtualization or is this agreement being made due to the close relationship between VMware and Red Hat?*
This deal carries with it major implications for the virtualization and cloud markets as well as for enterprises running Oracle’s software:
- vSphere is still persona non grata when it comes to running Oracle software. As mentioned, some enterprises run it anyway, but by doing so they are running afoul of Oracle support agreements. This announcement could suggest more enterprise credibility for Microsoft’s Hyper-V than would have otherwise been possible. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Oracle and VMware are having similar talks, but at present nothing on that front is rumored.
- Hyper-V is seen as a real, enterprise-class contender by the world’s largest database maker. If nothing else, Oracle is run by shrewd people who wouldn’t risk their flagship products running on shoddy underpinnings. The announcement adds serious legitimacy to the supposition that Hyper-V 2012 is ready for prime time and is more than just competition when it comes to vSphere.
- Microsoft’s Azure service is also given a boost. For Microsoft, this is another boon as the company is very tightly integrating its current portfolio with its cloud service.
In addition, enterprises wishing to virtualize Oracle software will now need to take a step back and really analyze their long-term plans. Although it’s not likely that the industry will see a mass market shift from vSphere to Hyper-V solely due to this agreement, it would not come as a surprise to see some CIOs take pause and consider moving to a multi-hypervisor environment, particularly now that there are some excellent management tools for just these situations.
Opportunities for CIOs, if they choose to partake
Virtualization is the de facto method for new workloads today. For those CIOs who have standardized on vSphere and also run Oracle, Oracle is more than likely a standalone application running on physical, supported hardware, or it's running surreptitiously in a vSphere environment with Oracle none the wiser. This partnership between the two companies can enable CIOs to more fully realize their 100% virtualized dream.
Action Item: Those who want to virtualize their Oracle environment but want to stay on the right side of support will more than likely – and appropriately – pause to see what Oracle does with regard to support for other hypervisors. CIOs who are excited by this news and already piloting or running Hyper-V in production are well-positioned to capitalize on this new opportunity. For now, those using vSphere should put a hold on immediate action to see if Oracle strikes up a partnership with VMware.
Further, as is the case with all technology tools, CIOs should do a cost and feature analysis of their existing environment and determine how Hyper-V might function there, if at all.
Footnotes: See Wikibon CTO David Floyer's Breaking Analysis video on the Hyper-V and Microsoft partnership. Also see Scott Lowe's breaking analysis.