Friday, November 21, 2008

Transitive acquisition -- Great, but maybe misunderstood

Autonomic/on-demand/elastic computing continues to be a very hot topic. Virtualization is a key technology and enabler. As usual, vendors are quick to position solutions in the infrastructure virtualization space...

Earlier this week, IBM announced it had acquired Transitive Corporation. Transitive was labeled as a cross-platform virtualization solution. This isn't accurate.

Transitive's key value is that it provides an alternative to porting applications from one system architecture to another. It has been the technology behind PowerVM Lx86 (formerly System p Applicaiton Virtual Environment) and sits below the actual virtualization layer.

Transitive allows re-platforming applications from one system to another without porting and recompilation. It does that through dynamic analysis and translation of processor instructions (i.e. x86 -> System p). This is huge value. From a server virtualization engine (i.e. hypervisor), it is the PowerVM that creates the logical partitions not Transitive. I think it is important to make the distinction.

So, what is this acquisition about and why now?

(1) Virtualization is topping the list of the CIO agenda. Transitive has been a core technology and shipped as part of IBM's PowerVM. It also has OEM agreements with HP. Could this be a defensive play against HP?

(2) SUN is in trouble and there are doubts about its future. Transitive provides several paths from SPARC -> x86. Transitive positions IBM as a viable alternative with a migration path to displace SUN.

On the more immediate side, Transitive gives IBM enhanced offerings to help customers with cost reduction measures such as server consolidation and application decommissioning.

I was an IBM VM systems programmer in previous life and am a strong believer in the value virtualization technologies. IBM has a long history with virtualization. I think Transitive's acquisition is a smart move and has many potential for MSPs, VARs, and ISVs...

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