DMTF Moves Forward on Virtualization Standards

At VMworld 2008, VMware’s user conference being held through Thursday in Las Vegas, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) took the wraps off VMAN, the virtual-management initiative aimed at simplifying and cutting the cost of managing virtual environments.

The DMTF also announced that the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is now officially a standard. OVF, which was developed jointly by vendors and submitted to the DMTF a year ago, is part of VMAN.

OVF lets vendors or enterprises package virtual machines together with applications, operating systems and hooks and calls to any other applications and hardware as needed, wrapped up in metadata about the package in XML and signed digitally to authenticate the package.

VMAN will be based on OVF and will leverage existing industry standards such as CIM, the DMTF’s Common Information Model, which provides a common definition of management information for systems, networks, applications and services; and WBEM, which is Web-Based Enterprise Management Technology, DMTF president Winston Bumpus told

Bumpus said that VMAN will “give you all the pieces you need to create an infrastructure for virtual management.” The standard will provide enterprises a standardized approach to managing virtual machines throughout their entire life cycle. It will also let independent software vendors create prepackaged virtual appliances to run on customized virtualization platforms.

VMAN will also let enterprises create libraries of virtual machines for future use by packaging virtual machines they find useful in OVF and storing them. “It’s like reusing components of software code,” he added.

Vendors are already leveraging OVF. Yesterday, virtualization giant VMware (NYSE: VMW) unveiled VMware Studio for creating and packaging virtual appliances that can be shipped in OVF.

And Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), which is on the DMTF board, is leveraging the standard in its Oracle Templates.

Supporting VMAN

Both Intel and AMD have expressed support for VMAN. Other vendors expressing support include Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and VMware, whose newly announced vApp feature leverages OVF.

“IBM is looking forward to taking virtualization standardization to the next level through the VMAN initiative, particularly as our clients continue moving to highly virtualized environments and cloud computing,” said Rich Lechner, IBM’s vice president for enterprise systems and cloud computing strategy.

The DMTF will work aggressively toward adoption of VMAN by the industry. “Between now and the end of the year we’ll launch certification and conformance and interoperability initiatives,” Bumpus said.

Adherence to the VMAN standard will be optional, but “at the end of the day, customers will look for products that are truly interoperable, and when you create specifications and people implement them in products, that will drive adoption,” Bumpus said.

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