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07:24 PM
Roger Smith
Roger Smith

The New Open Virtualization Format 1.0

At VMworld 2008, VMware's user conference held this week in Las Vegas, the Distributed Management Task Force announced a new virtual-management initiative VMAN, aimed at making it easier and cheaper to manage virtual environments.

At VMworld 2008, VMware's user conference held this week in Las Vegas, the Distributed Management Task Force announced a new virtual-management initiative VMAN, aimed at making it easier and cheaper to manage virtual environments.As part of the VMAN initiative, the task force also announced the release of the new Open Virtualization Format (OVF) 1.0 standard, which was developed jointly by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, VMware and XenSource, and submitted to the DMTF a year ago. Many of these same vendors already are creating and packaging virtual appliances that can be shipped in OVF, including the new VMware Studio that was unveiled this week in Las Vegas. I first learned about OVF during a presentation at the 2008 LinuxWorld Expo earlier this year by DMTF president Winston Bumpus and, in a subsequent interview, he spelled out many of the details in the new VMAN initiative.

DMTF VMAN has two components for managing virtualized environments. The OVF standard addresses the packaging/distribution and deployment/installation aspects, while System Virtualization Management standards target the management stage of a virtualized system life cycle. A platform-independent, efficient, extensible, open packaging and distribution format for virtual machines, OVF facilitates the mobility of virtual machines since customers can deploy an OVF-formatted virtual machine on the virtualization platform of their choice. Standards developed by DMTF for System Virtualization Management define a consistent way for managing any virtualized environment and will allow all the virtualization vendors to develop interoperable management solutions that should lower management complexity and cost, especially in a heterogeneous, multivendor environment. This will give IT managers the ability to manage their entire virtualized environment, including all virtual machines and their deployments, from a single management console.

DMTF standards for managing virtualized systems extend the existing standards for managing servers, called SMASH (Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware), and the underlying DMTF management data model called CIM (Common Information Model). Because of this, vendors can develop management features that are consistent for both physical and virtual systems. Administrators can then more easily leverage their familiarity with server management to manage virtual systems, which ought to make it easier and simpler for IT organizations to adopt virtualization technologies.

Precursor For Cloud Computing Standards?

I've speculated before about using CIM as the partial basis for a cloud computing API. The fact that the major virtualization vendors could come together and first agree on the importance of open standards, and then release a virtualization standard in one year, bodes well for the speedy adoption of future virtualization and cloud computing standards.

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