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11/25/2008
07:51 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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VMAN Comes To Town, But Virtual Machine Law And Order Still Elusive

I've noted that the DMTF.org standards body is not working on a spec for a standard virtual machine runtime, one that could be shared by all vendors. Why not? Because among DMTF members, there's no political will to do so. There is, however, a desire to create a standard VM management interface.



I've noted that the DMTF.org standards body is not working on a spec for a standard virtual machine runtime, one that could be shared by all vendors. Why not? Because among DMTF members, there's no political will to do so. There is, however, a desire to create a standard VM management interface.In mid-September, the DMTF announced its Virtualization Management Initiative or VMAN. In talking to Microsoft's Mike Neil Nov.21, he told InformationWeek that Microsoft has built Hyper-V to be compliant with the DMTF's approach to virtual machine management and will keep it in step with the VMAN specification as it is filled out.

The DMTF's real initiative lies on the VM managment front, even though some people, like myself, once believed it lay in producing a shared runtime virtual machine format.

Winston Bumpus, president of the DMTF, says his membership, which includes the major virtualization software vendors, has not proposed a runtime standard, "but we have all kinds of management specs… We're focused on managing the runtime state (of a virtual machine)."

VMAN will seek to provide a way for systems management systems, such as CA-Unicenter or BMC Corp.'s Patrol, to view and connect to virtual machines, with the ability to inventory them, commission or decommission them, and monitor their activity. Virtualization vendors, by making use of VMAN, will gain the ability to view and monitor their own VMs as well as the competition's through a standard interface, easing somewhat the strain on data centers as virtual machines begin to proliferate.

In effect, VMAN is a continuation of the DMTF's work in generating management specs, having previously created CIM or Common Information Model for managing the infrastructure from server to desktop. On the DMTF Web site, Bumpus says, "Our leadership in the development of interoperable management standards allows DMTF's members to bring years of experience to the creation of the latest virtualization standards."

In my interview with him, he said something similar but different--something more self aware and ironic. "For 40 years in this industry, we've been chasing a vision of distributed computing under lots of different names." A common runtime format, shared across the major virtualization vendors, would be a vision of distributed computing finally be realized for the benefit of the end user. Virtual machines could be run under different hypervisors and different vendor's management tools and they'd still fit into a harmonious whole.

Instead of that, DMTF is concentrating once again on what can be done among contending suppliers, none of whom want to make it too easy to shift away from their own product to someone else's. So DMTF is providing Open Virtualization Format, a means of moving virtual machines about so that they can be recognized by the governing hypervisor and converted into its preferred runtime format. And VMAN.

OK, that's a start. But the "vision of distributed computing of the past 40 years" remains unfulfilled. And I'm not sure another 40 years, without user protest, is going to be long enough to get it fulfilled.

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