In my previous post on Oracle's support of VMware virtualization, I pointed out that Oracle is behaving like a monopolist: Attempting to establish control over the entire IT stack, including application, OS, storage and virtualization. Oracle's recent moves in the area of virtualization further demonstrate this trend, potentially benefiting Oracle to the detriment of their customers and the industry.
Oracle recently revised one of its metalink support statements regarding virtualization of Oracle software products. This is the statement concerning support for virtualization with Oracle E-Business Suite. The revised version can be found here. (Note: This URL requires a metalink account.)
The changes in this statement are very interesting, in that they speak volumes concerning Oracle's intention regarding the use of VMware virtualization with their products, especially Oracle Database. Prior to May 8, the title of this support statement was:
Platform Vendor Virtualization Technologies and Oracle E-Business Suite
With the revision on May 8, the title was changed to:
Hardware Vendor Virtualization Technologies on non x86/x86-64 Architectures and Oracle E-Business Suite
Note the use of "Hardware Vendor" rather than "Platform Vendor" and the addition of "on non x86/x86-64 Architectures". Further, prior to May 8, the text of the support statement included the following:
The use of platform (emphasis mine) vendors' virtualization technologies (both software and hardware based) (emphasis mine) to host Oracle E-Business Suite 11i and R12 is covered by Oracle's policy with regards to 3rd-party products - that is, they are 'not explicitly certified, but supported' (emphasis theirs).
On May 8, this was revised to read:
Note the replacement of the term "platform vendor" with "hardware vendor", and the deletion of the phrase "both software and hardware based". Clearly, Oracle intends to carefully limit the support statement to only hardware vendors' virtualization on non-x86/x86-64 platforms at this point. Or to state it in the reverse, to exclude software vendors' virtualization products on the x86/x86-64 platform. And who is the dominant market leader for software virtualization on that platform? VMware, of course.
Further, the earlier version of the support statement included VMware explicitly, and this was deleted from the revised version.
I am speculating, but my guess is that this move on Oracle's part was prompted by the post to Chris Wolf's blog (which he issued on May 6), stating:
This post was based upon the earlier version of the support statement, obviously, which granted best efforts support to all virtualization products, both software and hardware, on all platforms, and included VMware explicitly. Others posted as well, basically claiming victory on VMware virtualization of Oracle software products. The timing is extremely suspicious, and it seems pretty clear that Oracle closed the loophole which might be perceived to grant official support to virtualization of Oracle Database using VMware.
The other move is, of course, Oracle's acquisition of Virtual Iron, a startup which has been nipping at VMware's heels for some time. The intent of that acquisition is obvious: To shore up the Oracle VM offering which has big gaps when compared to VMware.
Combined together, these moves present a fairly stark and obvious message: It appears that Oracle is carefully and intentionally excluding VMware from its support statement. It also seems very obvious that this is without any technical justification whatsoever, given that Oracle has granted explicit support for virtualization products from other vendors which are completely homologous and comparable to VMware. The apparent reason is to benefit OVM, Oracle's competitive offering against VMware, by forcing Oracle Database customers to run that virtualization product instead.
If VMware were a niche player in the virtualization market, that would be one thing. Excluding such a player might be seen as mean spirited, but the impact would be minimal. In the case of VMware, though, Oracle is excluding the vast, vast market leader in the virtualization market.
This is exactly like Oracle attempting to exclude Microsoft Windows from its list of supported OS platforms and promoting Linux as the exclusive OS platform for running the Oracle Database software product. Permitting Linux as an alternative to Windows as your OS platform for running the Oracle Database is fine. Even promoting Linux is the preferred alternative is imminently justifiable. But attempting to exclude an OS platform with the market dominance of Windows would be met with howls of protest by numerous customers. I submit that this is exactly what Oracle is attempting to do by excluding VMware from its best efforts support policy.
- Do you have any conceivable technical justification for excluding VMware from best-efforts support, given your support for less mature, less popular software virtualization products sold by other vendors, yourself included?
- How are your customers served by forcing them onto a virtualization platform with less maturity and less market penetration than VMware?
- As Chuck Hollis pointed out in his blog, competing on your own merits to own the datacenter is one thing. Using your dominance in one area (databases) to force your customers to accept dominance in another area (virtualization) smacks of anti-competitiveness. Can't you tolerate a free and fair competitive environment? What are you afraid of?
- Given that there is abundant evidence from extensive testing (including at EMC) that VMware virtualization of Oracle databases is both viable and compelling, what is your real issue here?
- If you have no reasonable response to the above questions, then when will you extend official best-efforts support to VMware which you have already done to other equivalent virtualization products?