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Interview with Jim Sherburne of BEA on WebLogic Server Virtual Edition

by Rob Thornton on Jan 05, 2007 |

InfoQ recently sat down with Jim Sherburne, Director or Product Marketing for BEA's virtualization offerings to discuss BEA's virtualization strategy that was announced last month and LiquidVM, a version of the JVM that includes basic operating system capabilities and will run on a hypervisor.

BEA will be releasing a version of WebLogic Server, dubbed WebLogic Server Virtual Edition, which will run on VMWare's ESX hypervisor. LiquidVM is a spruced up version of JRockit which provides the necessary operating system functionality so WebLogic Server will run on it. InfoQ first asked Sherburne why they went down this path.

Gartner is projecting that virtualization will be the default server configuration by the end of 2008. Without exception, every one of our customers has told us that they are looking seriously at some type of virtualization solution to address their data center issues.

InfoQ asked if BEA was tightly integrated with VMWare's hypervisor or if other hypervisors would be supported.

BEA's technology is hypervisor agnostic. VMWare is currently the clear market share leader in this sector, but support for other hypervisor solutions, like Xen will certainly be made available in the future.

Sherburne described LiquidVM and what was challenging in integrating the necessary operating system constructs into it.

The first product to be released using the Liquid VM technology will be WebLogic Server - Virtual Edition in the first half of 2007. The nature of this technology is such that it can be used to support any Java application.

Creating a virtual machine on a hypervisor is pretty straightforward through the interfaces presented by the virtualization s/w vendor. Therefore, with the LiquidVM, we've created a s/w appliance that gets deployed within this virtual machine that automatically boots up our simplified OS layer and starts up the JVM process along with the Java class path of the application provided upon initial invocation. However, the most challenging aspects of integrating this simplified OS layer in this virtual machine environment were determining the extent of networking and low-level hardware interactions.

Lastly, Sherburne described how they determined what set of functionality was needed in LiquidVM.

The primary OS constructs that are necessary to preserve have to do with networking, file system, SMP, and threads when we are running just the JVM within that environment since the other aspects like memory management, process and thread scheduling, and security are handled directly by the JVM itself. While the WebLogic Server will be packaged with the LiquidVM, the goal was not to focus on just the needs of WLS, but rather Java applications in general.

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