IBM Lands Virtual Gem in Transitive

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Nov 26, 2008


Somewhat glossed over in the shuffle of last week's supercomputing show was news that IBM had made a big purchase that has the potential to impact the virtualization market as much as Hyper-V has. Virtually Speaking: Big Blue's planned acquisition of the cross-platform virtualization technology company gives it a competitive edge. Did VMware blow it by passing on Transitive?

Big Blue revealed plans to acquire Transitive, a company that specializes in cross-platform technologies. These technologies include, of course, virtualization.

According to a statement released by Transitive, the technology will enable customers to consolidate Linux-based applications onto whichever IBM system makes the most sense for their business needs.

Analyst Charles King of Pund-IT Research told InternetNews.com this might prove to be a competitive advantage for IBM as, "there's an opportunity for IBM to use Transitive to lure away competitors' customers."

Transitive, as King noted, "worked with a lot of other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, to provide virtualization technology that would allow competitors' workloads, including IBM's, to be ported over to their platforms," he said.

IBM is no stranger to Transitive's offerings. Its PowerVMTM software, which is designed to help customers consolidate their x86 Linux workloads onto IBM systems, currently includes Transitive technology.

While that's interesting enough to ponder on the surface, an article on Motley Fool provides additional food for thought. Author Tim Beyers writes that he believes VMware blew it by passing on Transitive.

At the very least, it would have made for a more convincing argument against Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) limited-yet-improving Hyper-V virtualization software. It would go something like this: You want to virtualize your SPARC servers? Sure, we can do that. Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL) x86? Yep, we can do that, too. IBM's PowerPC? Yep. Oh, all you need is to virtualize a single x86 Windows server? Sure, Microsoft can help you there. We think.

Whether Transitive would have given VMware a big edge over Microsoft is pure speculation. Its loss (if it is a loss), however, is clearly IBM's gain, opening up myriad opportunities.

Think about it: IBM has been delivering virtual machines since before they were known as virtual machines. Its mainframe legacy brings with it virtualization capabilities that, in some cases, haven't yet trickled down to the x86 set. How long with is will last is unclear. However, as the Top 500 list indicates, the days of the mainframe ruling the HPC roost are over.

Bringing the virtualization capabilities to x86 set and having the capabilities that facilitate the process is quite an advantage for Big Blue.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001.

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