Feeds

VMware throws next punch in virtualisation battle

Opens up file format

Top three mobile application threats

Comment VMware has announced it is making its virtual machine file format freely available, with no license or royalties.

Despite the company's claim that "it is committed to supporting any other open virtual machine disk formats broadly adopted by customers and working toward converging on open standards in this area", this announcement is clearly motivated by the desire to ensure that VMware's virtualisation technologies are at the hub of a healthy ecosystem of third parties offering a range of value-added capabilities, such as backup/recovery, provisioning, performance optimistation, and so forth.

To emphasise the point, VMware had Akimbi Systems, Altiris, BMC Software, PlateSpin, rPath, Surgient, Symantec and Trend Micro on hand to explain how they intend to use the file format. VMware first made its intentions clear in this regard with the announcement of the VMware Virtual Infrastructure SDK in June 2004.

VMware is not alone. At the Microsoft Management Summit in April last year, Steve Ballmer announced royalty-free licensing of Microsoft's equivalent Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format. At the time of writing, Microsoft has signed up 45 licensees, including XenSource, which is leading the open source community behind the Xen hypervisor technology, as well as offering a range of value-added solutions based on Xen.

Yesterday, Microsoft also announced that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now available as a no-charge download. This announcement, like VMware's release of the free VMware Player (in December 2005) and VMware Server (in February this year), is indicative that the core virtualisation engine is becoming a commodity - as, of course, is Microsoft's intention to include a hypervisor in the Windows operating system.

It is this commoditisation that is at the heart of these moves by VMware and Microsoft. The virtualisation battle is not going to be won on the basis of who is armed with the best engine, particularly in the face of open source alternatives such as Xen, which the likes of RedHat and Novell are building into their Linux distributions. The spoils will go to the vendor whose engine can be harnessed most effectively. VMware clearly recognises this and is investing heavily in technologies such as VirtualCenter. It's not lost on Microsoft either, but it still has some way to go to catch up.

But both vendors clearly recognise, as the opening up of their respective file formats indicates, that they can't do it alone. In particular, they need to ensure that the leading management players - BMC, CA, HP and IBM - are on board, since that's who many of their target customers will be turning to for a lead. VMware has done an excellent job of cultivating partnerships with these players but none of them can afford to ignore Microsoft.

These moves are good news for enterprises. Not only does it increase competition and, as a result, choice: it also drives innovation in the management areas required to maximise the potential benefits of virtualisation technology. In the absence of industry-wide open standards, enterprises will rely on these management solutions to abstract the underlying virtualisation engine.

Copyright © 2006 Macehiter Ward-Dutton

This article was originally published at IT-Analysis.com.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.