VMWare fires back at Oracle's VM performance claims

VMWare quibbles with Oracle's performance claims for its virtualization offering.

A VMWare official on Friday scoffed at Oracle's contention that its recent entry into the virtualization market performs better than "the existing leader server virtualization product."

Oracle has not named names, but the identity of that "existing leader" would appear to be the market-dominant VMWare.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said Wednesday the company will provide benchmark numbers to back its claims, but as of Friday, those figures were not available. An Oracle spokesperson said Friday the numbers will be available "soon," but could not provide an exact date.

Brian Byun, VMware's vice president of global partners and solutions, said in the absence of hard numbers, Oracle's claims amount to marketing spin. "When VMWare launches a product and makes claims, we publish the full data," he said.

A document posted on Oracle's Web site states: "Oracle ran many performance benchmarks comparing Oracle products running with Oracle VM against the existing leading server virtualization product and also with Oracle products on non-virtualized operating systems on x86 and x86-64. Oracle consistently saw much better resource utilization with an average of three times less overhead using Oracle VM, and also saw significant scalability with virtual SMP. In many cases, the comparison with real hardware was approximately equal in performance."

Byun refused to speculate on how Oracle arrived at its assertions. "We're not in a position to state what that means on behalf of Oracle. ... From a VMWare perspective, we're looking for confirmed, reproducible data," he said.

VMWare has also responded by putting up a blog post titled "Ten Reasons Why Oracle Databases Run Best on VMWare."

Oracle VM is based on the open source Xen hypervisor. Forrester Research analyst James Staten said Oracle's performance claims are ultimately based on figures put forth by the Xen project. Staten added that customers should test Oracle's VM product against others based on their own, real-life production workloads.

Oracle is giving away its VM software for free and will make its money on support. However, the company has sent mixed messages over whether it plans to offer support for its applications running on other virtualization platforms.

Byun said his company's understanding is that Oracle will continue to support its applications running on VMWare, but will refer any virtualization-related issues to VMWare.

Oracle wasn't the only company to introduce a virtualization product this week. Sun unveiled its xVM offering at OpenWorld on Wednesday. Sun said it will put US$2 billion behind the effort.

XVM is also based on Xen. Byun said he believes VMWare will actually end up benefiting from Sun's move. The proliferation of Xen-based products will create a "confounding landscape" for customers looking at virtualization, and they will ultimately retreat to VMWare, he argued.

"I wouldn't go that far," Forrester's Staten said. "The more people that participate in the virtualization market, the better the choice for the end user." VMware has a substantial lead but Xen-based offerings are playing catch-up, he noted: "VMWare's in a great position right now. The question is whether that's sustainable."

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