September 10, 2007 5:00 AM PDT

Standard coming to virtualization format

Major virtualization companies are cooperating to bring some simplicity to the world of their mutual interest, the format used to save virtual machine images to disk.

Cooperating in the effort are VMware, XenSource and Microsoft, which today have separate software for the task of running multiple virtual machines on one computer and separate formats for storing those virtual machines. That storage is an important part of tasks such as backing up data, installing fresh virtual machines from a template, or moving one quiescent virtual machine from one physical computer to another.

Major server companies Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM also are participating in the effort, which is taking place within a group called the Distributed Management Task Force that's standardized other server technologies as well.

The move is a notable display of cooperation among competitors. However, the standard doesn't address other aspects of virtualization that could be standardized, such as interfaces to start, stop, move and otherwise control virtual machines.

The task force announced the move just as a major virtualization conference, VMworld, begins in San Francisco.

The proposed format, called the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF), doesn't replace the three existing standards, but instead wraps them in a standard package of XML that includes necessary information to install and configure the virtual machines.

"This allows any virtualization platform that implements the standard to correctly install and run the virtual machines," the task force said.

The standard permits integrity checking, too, so those with virtual machines stored as OVF files can protect against tampering.

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2 comments

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Ahhh, this is what I'm waiting for!
Right now, I have different Windows servers for different functions. Love the idea of virtual servers, but wary of the fact that for something so important, there's no industry standard for it. Would hate to get knee deep in VMWare, only to have Microsoft decide to compete against them with a future release of Windows Server.

Create the standards, get industry buy in, insure all apps work with it, and I'll trash all the rack mount servers for some blade servers, NAS and VMWare.
Posted by mike.gw (942 comments )
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Virtualization for everyone!!!
I used to be happy with the fact that virtual platforms offered what bit-for-bit disk images like Ghost and G4U couldn?t offer. It has made transferring my software configuration other hardware configuration much easier. However, I found myself spending a lot of time rebuilding those configurations on the other platforms simply for my own research.

Agreeing on a standard format for those virtual images is definitely a step in the right direction for us as "end users". I know it will save me a lot of time!!!

I?m not getting all that excited just yet. I imagine this effort will be introduced as an ?additional? format to save our files with limited functional compatibility. If I had money to waste, I would bet big bucks that these big vendors will NOT their own innovations like VMWare tools. If it could have been done XEN would have been the one to do it, but since they're Citrix now... probably not. :)

Regardless, this has got to be the best news since "Cheese Whiz."

?I?m Out!!!
Jerry Merfeld
Posted by jerrymerfeld (13 comments )
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