Simon Crosby recently wrote about an upcoming Citrix product (I think that’s what it is, since he doesn’t mention open source anywhere) called Kensho. The post is mostly a teaser (the Wikipedia link in his post will improve your knowledge of oriental philosophy but not your IT management expertise) but it makes interesting claims of virtualization infrastructure interoperability.
OVF gets a lot of credit in Simon’s story. But, unless things have changed a lot since the specification was submitted to DMTF, it is still a wrapper around proprietary virtual disk formats (as previously explained). That wrapper alone can provide a lot of value. But when Simon explains that Kensho can “create VMs from VMware, Hyper-V & XenServer in the OVF format” and when he talks about “OVF virtual appliances” it tends to create the impression that you can deploy any OVF-wrapped VM into any OVF-compliant virtualization platform. Which, AFAIK, is not the case.
For the purpose of a demo, you may be able to make this look like a detail by having a couple of equivalent images and picking one or the other depending on the target hypervisor. But from the perspective of the complete lifecycle management of your virtual machines, having a couple of “equivalent” images in different formats is a bit more than a detail.
All in all, this is an interesting announcement and I take it as a sign that things are progressing well with OVF at DMTF.
[UPDATED 2008/6/29: Chris Wolf (whose firm, the Burton Group, organized the Catalyst conference at which Simon Crosby introduced Kensho) has a nice write-up about what took place there. Plenty of OVF-love in his post too, and actually he gives higher marks to VMWare and Novell than Citrix on that front. Chris makes an interesting forecast: “Look for OVF to start its transition from a standardized metadata format for importing VM appliances to the industry standard format for VM runtime metadata. There’s no technical reason why this cannot happen, so to me runtime metadata seems like OVF’s next step in its logical evolution. So it’s foreseeable that proprietary VM metadata file formats such as .vmc (Microsoft) and .vmx (VMware) could be replaced with a .ovf file”. That would be very nice indeed.]
[2008/7/15: Citrix has hit the “PR” button on Kensho, so we get a couple of articles describing it in a bit more details: Infoworld and Sysmannews (slightly more detailed, including dangling the EC2 carrot).]