When Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) bought virtual machine specialist Virtual Iron, I thought Larry Ellison was looking to ride that new customer list into new, small-and-medium business markets. But that's not what he wanted at all.

A couple of weeks ago, Oracle announced the end of Virtual Iron's life as a product line. Virtual Iron's technology is to be folded into the existing Oracle Virtual Machine platform, and its customers are expected to move to full-blown Oracle support contracts. In the meantime, there's no published timeline for the technical integration of Virtual Iron into Oracle VM; Virtual Iron customers who need to upgrade or relicense their virtual servers are navigating without a compass.

And that's where VMware (NYSE:VMW) comes into play. The leading virtualization expert is offering "aggressive discounts" on enterprise-class VMware software if you can show a valid Virtual Iron license -- 40% off on many software licenses and a 10% discount on one-year support contracts.

VMware does have a migration tool already with explicit support for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Virtual Server machines, and it can tap into full backups from Symantec's (NASDAQ:SYMC) Norton Ghost and other full-featured storage products. VMware spokesman Nick Fuentes tells me that it will also convert Virtual Iron images directly.

This is kind of like Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) pouncing on Microsoft when Redmond discontinued Microsoft Money. There are money-saving incentives for making the switch, and it's not too terribly hard to do the conversion work.

But are the discounts deep enough to suck customers away from the Virtual Iron environment they're used to? Oracle promises to roundly support Virtual Iron customers, but the lack of a deadline for that Oracle VM integration might be enough to push any fence-sitters over to VMware.

I'd love to hear what the actual Virtual Iron users out there think, though -- the Comments box is waiting for you below.

Further virtual Foolishness:

VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Microsoft and Symantec are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.