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BEA to run Java sans operating system

BEA gets virtualization religion, builds edition of Java virtual machine that runs on VMware's hypervisor.

BEA Systems has created a version of its Java application server designed for virtualization technology, using an approach that cuts the operating systems out of the picture.

At the company's customer conference in Beijing this week, BEA will give details of a forthcoming product called WebLogic Server Virtual Edition and of related products, including an administration application.

WebLogic Server is a Java application server used to run Java programs, such as high-volume Web sites. The virtual edition is a break from BEA's current offering in that it was written to run on VMware's hypervisor, which is the basis for VMware's virtualization software.

Some virtualization software uses a hypervisor that lets a single computer run several instances of an individual software package.

In BEA's case, it created software called Liquid VM. Liquid VM is an addition to the company's JRockit Java virtual machine, which runs directly on VMware's hypervisor.

That virtual machine allows Java programs to interact with hardware servers without the need for an operating system, according to Stephen Hess, director of product management for the WebLogic Platform.

The goal of the virtualization push at BEA is to give IT administrators a set of tools to consolidate several Java applications on a single server and to optimize their performance, he said. Typically, virtualization is used in corporate data centers to improve the utilization of existing servers by putting several workloads on a single machine.

"Our goal was to double the utilization by running natively," said Guy Churchward, vice president of WebLogic products, "and to double the performance." The setup will allow companies to create new instances of Java applications to meet spikes in demand in a few seconds, compared with 45 minutes, as is the case now, he said.

WebLogic Server Virtual Edition is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of next year. An accompanying management console for administrators, called Liquid Operations Control, is due in the summer of 2007.

The company intends to create editions of its WebLogic virtualization software to run on virtualization packages from Xen and Microsoft, executives said.

BEA is also scheduled on Monday to release an early edition of that update, WebLogic Server 10, which brings the software in compliance with the Java Enterprise Edition 5 and Enterprise Java Beans 3.0 standards. The final version is due in February of next year.