Sun Microsystems has acquired Innotek, a Stuttgart, Germany provider of open source desktop virtualization software called VirtualBox, for an undisclosed amount.

VirtualBox is part of a hot group of companies allowing for much more efficient use of computers within large companies. VirtualBox enables desktop or laptop PCs running pretty much any operating system — Windows, Linux, Mac or Solaris — to run multiple, different operating systems side-by-side, switching between them with just a click of the mouse.

This allows software developers to more easily build multi-tier or cross-platform applications, and saves a company from having to buy multiple machines.

VirtualBox is also open source, and the move keeps Sun in the leadership pack as a major provider of open source software. It just acquired open source database company MySQL for $1 billion.

With more than four million downloads since January 2007, Innotek’s VirtualBox also has offices in Dresden, Berlin and the Russian Federation.

Innotek has been developing PC virtualization technology since 2001.

Yakov Sadchikov, who is following the European and Russian scenes closely, notes the acquisition comes soon after SWSoft, a competing virtualization software company from Russia was renamed Parallels.

Also, he cites Randall Kennedy of InfoWorld calling the Sun-Innotek deal a smart buy: “… even more important is Sun’s recognition of Innotek’s commitment to developers. VirtualBox has long been the preferred solution for open-source programmers seeking to ‘roll their own’ virtualization platforms.”

Innotek was privately funded.

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