High Hopes for OVF

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Will the OVF, the Open Virtual Machine Format, really make it easier to manage virtual resources across multi-platform environments?


Like any standard, that depends on how much support it gets and whether or not any rival proposals try to enter the field. On both of those counts, then, it looks like OVF stands a good chance of avoiding what would otherwise be a messy battle for the right to govern the virtual enterprise.


Citrix this week announced a new set of management tools conforming to OVF, which is in the final stages of ratification by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) and has already garnered the support of Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft and VMware. The toolkit that is slated to come out of Citrix' "Project Kensho" is aimed at creating virtual appliances capable of running on any hypervisor, ushering in a virtual world in which the underlying platform is largely irrelevant to the application.


At the moment, Citrix is the only major virtualization vendor to formally embrace the OVF standard. The only other mention I could find is in the Enterprise Virtualization Management (EVM) suite from ManageIQ, which automates VM management tasks like event tracking, discovery and system monitoring. OVF is likely to make it easier for ManageIQ to track compliance across multiple platforms.


Still up in the air, though, is how Microsoft will approach OVF. The company has been involved in the DMTF deliberations, but has yet to declare any kind of compliance for the new Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) suite that's due by the end of the year. Not only is this the first management tool for the Hyper-V platform, but it's the first version to be unbundled from the System Center Server Management Suite Enterprise (SMSE), so its impact on the market could be significant.


With virtualization likely to be a commodity resource in a few short years, it is almost inconceivable that there won't be a substantial universe of multi-platform enterprises out there. And since management is such a crucial aspect of any virtual environment, it's good to know that there's a strong chance that a single, centralized management stack is in the offing.