Virtual appliances concept launched by VMware and quickly embraced by several virtualization vendors (including Microsoft and Virtual Iron) and partners in the industry, brings in notable benefits but currently implies several risks.
One of them is allow virtual appliances to become threat vectors because of slow and complex delivery methods for updated images.
Part of the problem can be addressed developing an industry standardized technology able to simplify and possibly automate distribution of virtual machines from providers public sites to customers infrastructures, in a secure and reliable way.
Enomaly, the virtualization startup developing the open source management console for Xen called Enomalism, is already working on such standard proposal and launched the VMcasting technology:
VMcasting is an automatic virtual machine deployment mechanism based on RSS2.0 whereby virtual machine images are transferred from a server to a client securely delivering files containing a technical specification and virtual disk image.
The concept of VMcasting is based on the similar concept of Podcasting, the popular trend of audio content delivered via an RSS feed presenting a downloadable or streaming file (often an MP3). With VMcasting, a developer publishes an RSS 2.0 feed where each item describes a release of a particular Virtual Machine Image or Virtual Appliance. The items descriptions may contain release notes or other information about what’s new in a particular release. Therefore developers can be easily upgrade or install using a virtual server management system such as Enomalism.
VMcasting has been designed with scalability in mind (it supports single virtual machines definition as well as group of virtual machines) and broad compatibility, supporting virtual images from VMware, Xen (including XenSource and Virtual Iron then), Microsoft, Parallels and QEMU.
Discover details of the technology on the official VMcasting site.
Enomaly has been included in the virtualization.info Virtualization Industry Radar.