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VMware Opens Up Virtualization

Software maker VMware announced this week it is working with a wide range of other technology companies to establish “open” virtualization standards based on its products and technologies.

VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., said its first move is contributing some of its own virtualization technology to the effort. That includes providing its partners royalty-free access to source code and interfaces for the company’s ESX Server product under a new program called VMware Community Source.

The idea is to let VMware’s partners influence the future of ESX Server through a collaborative development model and shared governance process, the company said. Partners will be able to make changes to the code and contribute shared code back to the program.

“VMware is accelerating the creation of a virtualization economy through a new, open collaborative development model with partners that combines the best of commercial and open source models,” a VMware spokesperson said in an email.

Among the companies joining VMware in the announcement were AMD, BEA Systems, BMC Software, Broadcom, Cisco, Computer Associates International, Dell, Emulex, HP, IBM, Intel, Mellanox, Novell, QLogic and Red Hat.

“[We are] opening up the APIs and providing shared governance and source access to them,” said Diane Greene, president of VMware in a statement.

A main goal of the program is to assure customers that they will be able to achieve interoperability between heterogeneous virtualized environments. Virtualization technology has taken off in the past two years as more IT customers strive to lower system administration costs. Virtualizing operating environments, as VMware’s products do, aims to make many administrative tasks, such as server provisioning and new application testing, much easier.

VMware is initially contributing its existing framework of interfaces, called Virtual Machine Hypervisor Interfaces (VMHI) to the program. Over time, the collaboration is expected to yield cross-platform frameworks for standardized operation and management of standalone virtual machine environments, co-operative virtualization APIs between so-called “hypervisors” and guest operating systems, and virtual machine formats that enable virtual machine migration and recovery across platforms.

Notably absent from the list of members is Microsoft, which has been making forays of its own into the virtualization space, including Virtual Server and Virtual PC. The company acquired the technology for the products in 2003 when it bought virtualization technology developer Connectix. VMware itself was acquired by storage giant EMC in January 2004.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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