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9/18/2008
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Tame That VM Sprawl

The Distributed Management Task Force's VMAN Initiative is aimed at making it easier and less expensive to keep rapidly expanding virtualized infrastructures under control.

Easier management of virtual environments was a theme of the VMworld 2008 user conference, held last week in Las Vegas. The Distributed Management Task Force announced its Virtual Management, or VMAN, Initiative, aimed at making it easier and less expensive to keep rapidly expanding virtualized infrastructures under control. The task force says it wants to ensure that the virtualization market doesn't get too far ahead of a set of standards for managing VMs in a multivendor environment.

As part of the VMAN Initiative, the Digital Management Task Force also announced the release of the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) 1.0 standard, which was developed jointly by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, VMware, and XenSource and submitted to the task force a year ago. Many of these same vendors already are packaging virtual appliances that can be shipped in OVF, including the new VMware Studio.

We first got a glimpse of OVF at the 2008 LinuxWorld Expo earlier this year, and task force president Winston Bumpus spelled out many of the details in the new initiative. One highlight is that VMAN has two components to manage virtualized environments: The OVF standard addresses packaging/distribution and deployment/installation, 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 VM on the virtualization platform of their choice.

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Once VMs are deployed, standards developed by the Digital Management Task Force for System Virtualization Management define a consistent way for administering any virtualized environment. A key goal is to let virtualization vendors develop interoperable management tools that should lower management complexity and cost, especially in heterogeneous, multivendor environments. This will give IT managers the ability to oversee their entire virtualized environments from a single management console.

To let administrators more easily leverage their familiarity with physical server management to manage virtual systems, standards from the task force for managing virtualized systems extend existing standards for managing servers, called Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware, or Smash, and the underlying management data model called Common Information Model, or CIM. Vendors can develop management features that are consistent for both physical and virtual systems, which ought to make it easier for IT to adopt virtualization.

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