A new proposal from a leader in Linux development has the networking world buzzing about the possibility of bridging the compatibility issues surrounding the virtual I/O.
The "virtio" layer proposed by Australian programmer Paul "Rusty" Russell would provide a single means for VMware, Xen and Kernal-based Virtual Machines (KVMs) to connect through virtual I/Os. The layer consists of a common code riding on a Linux guest OS that provides a series of guest and host input and output buffers, along with an abstraction layer efficient enough for both network and block devices.
What makes the proposal so inviting is that Russell was a leader in the development of "paravirt-ops" that provided a Linux-based unified interface for Xen and VMware. A single Virtual I/O interface would be a boon to enterprise managers because it would avoid having to rework network coding to shift control from the operating system to virtualization software.
Russell's proposal is currently making the rounds on various mailing lists, with reaction so far solidly in positive territory.
Outside of Linux, however, it looks like interoperability between virtualization systems will continue to be on a piecemeal basis, like the recent agreement between Scalent Systems and 3Leaf Systems. The two have engineered seamless interoperability between the Scalent V/OE platform and the V-8000 virtual I/O server.
No doubt, virtualization is a godsend for enterprises looking to boost performance and flexibility without costly network build-outs. But without a high degree of interoperability between platforms, it can lead to mind-numbing complexity that will ultimately hamper the very gains it was supposed to deliver.