Live from Catalyst 2008: Day 2

Second day at the Burton Group conference in San Diego.

To cover virtualization topics today on stage there are Steve Herrod, CTO at VMware, and Chris Wolf, Senior Analyst at Burton Group.

Steve Herrod is on stage. He introduces the VMware effort in the OVF (Open Virtual Machine Format).

Herrod explains that OVF born from the need to distribute the virtual appliances over a number of multiple hypervisors and to manage them through a number of management solutions.

OVF is developed in a way that ISVs can author a virtual machine, distribute it and deploy in the customers virtual platform.
A OVF package can be authored from scratch or just exported from a virtual infrastructure.
OVF packages can then be distributed easily because the format (an extensible XML document with 10 core sections) is designed to validate the target environment (at hardware, security and integrity levels), to include the licensing informations, to embed multiple VMs, and to stream the content without waiting for a full download.
The deployment is strictly controlled by 3 different portability levels, which define the restrictions in place to run a OVF package.

Chris Wolf is on stage talking about the mobility and orchestration opportunities and challenges in virtual infrastructures.

The challenges include the current immaturity of most live migration technologies, the incompatibilities between different hypervisors (virtual hard drive format, emulated hardware), the incompatibility between physical CPUs, the need to enforce SLAs and compliance policies, an often wrong capacity planning, the lack of standards.

Wolf sees a brighter future with more interoperable hardware, more flexible storage architectures, more intelligent virtual networking, more attention to security (despite the lack of standardization is critical in this area), and massive adoption of automation tools (to dynamically provision the whole computing stack and not only the servers).

The last key show of the day is a panel about management, interoperability and standards with the the DMTF, CiRBA, Cisco, HP and Novell.

During the panel Winston Bumpus, President of Distributed Management Task Force (DTMF) and VMware Director of Standards, announced the publishing of an almost complete OVF Standard specification.
The final version of the specification may be out within one month.