How much credibility Oracle has as virtualization player?

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In the virtualization market, right now, Oracle is the company that has the biggest potential.

One of the most important values in virtualization is the capability to cut the dependency on a specific hardware vendor, switching the servers, the storage or the network gears at will, without most of the pain that such change would imply in the “physical” world.
Yet, while everybody desires an open and competitive market, a number of customers prefer to deal with the least amount of vendors whenever possible.

Dealing with a single vendor means (or should mean) less moving parts, less complexity in licensing, a piece-of-mind support agreement that covers the computing stack end to end (which implies a shorter resolution time), a smoother standardization process, and more.

With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle is in the unique position to offer all of the above.
It has servers, storage and thin clients.
It has not one but three Xen-based hypervisors: its own Oracle VM Server, Virtual Iron and the Sun xVM Server that never saw the day of light.
It has an operating system and an enterprise management system.
It has the most adopted application platform in the world and several middleware.
It has a number of enterprise applications, including the most used mission-critical database server in the world.

If Oracle decides, it can make these pieces work as one, apply to them a very smart orchestration framework, and do the software mainframe that VMware mentions in its VMworld keynotes.
Every enterprise in the world would pay attention, no matter how questionable is considered the Oracle behavior and attitude.

If it is true that virtualization is no more just the hypervisor, and no more just the management layer, as both VMware and Citrix say these days, then Oracle is the company to watch.

The problem is that Oracle is doing nothing to gain credibility in the virtualization world.

First VMware and then EMC highlighted how the company is influencing and limiting its customers choice by using a very restrictive support policy.
That is a strategy. You can disagree on it, but you know exactly what game Oracle is playing.

It’s different when the Oracle President Charles Phillips, says that no customers had ever mentioned to him that they wanted Oracle to support their products on VMware.
That is concerning.

EMC reacted, calling for customers feedbacks, which triggered an official answer.
An answer that is not credible:

…There is a misperception out there so let me clarify. We never said customers were not interested in virtualization and we already recognize customers want to run their applications in a virtualized environment and we encourage them to do so which is why we offer Oracle VM with no license charge. We do support, test, and certify against the Oracle VM environment.  I didn’t say we needed to hear from customers who wanted to use VMware; we already agree that virtualization is important.
What we’ve said on other VMs is that we will respond to support issues as they arise but so far we’ve elected not to formally certify any third party VMs because virtualization is intricately linked to the rest of our stack. A lot of our customers run database grids and we support virtual clusters which requires our clusterware for internode communication interacting with our VM for HA features which is why people use RAC in the first place. We also use virtualization to provision RAC clusters and do live migrations…

Somebody that is much into the Oracle world already debunked the statements above:

…Other than RAC, Oracle simply does not certify things like this. There is no Oracle certification, so far as I can tell, for any hardware platform, other than RAC certified configurations. And we are not talking about RAC here.

As Chad points out, Oracle does not maintain a Hardware Compatibility Program for its software. For this reason, telling customers not to run VMware because it is not “certified” to run with Oracle software is simply meaningless. The same can be said of Dell servers, Intel CPUs, Emulex HBAs, Broadcom NICs and almost all of the rest of the stack on which Oracle software commonly runs.

VMware does not provide an OS environment upon which the Oracle software runs directly. Rather, VMware provides a hardware (albeit virtualized hardware) stack upon which an OS environment like Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) runs.

Oracle does provide certification of things like RHEL. But, as I have pointed out before, RHEL runs just fine on VMware, and is actually certified to do so by Red Hat…

Is Oracle really interested in being a virtualization vendor?
Is this the way the company wants to build its credibility in one of the most competitive markets in the IT industry?
Are the customers and prospects receiving the tools they need to build a confidence in the vendor’s vision and in its capability to execute?