SPECIAL REPORT: Virtualization

Virtualization Standards Development

One big challenge federal agencies face in migrating to virtual environments is the need to reduce the complexity of managing virtual machines, especially when those ongoing migration efforts may include incorporating multiple vendors' technologies.

As the migration to virtualization grows, so to does the need for open, industry standards. This is why, for example, the work of is viewed by several industry observers as a giant step in the right direction. Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) currently promotes standards for virtualization management to help industry suppliers implement compliant, interoperable virtualization management solutions.

The DMTF has rolled out a standard for managing virtual environments that is designed to make it easier and less costly for organizations of all kinds to use heterogeneous PCs, servers and storage devices, by promoting the development and adoption of management standards and interoperable systems management. Called System Virtualization Management, or VMAN, the DMTF provides a standardized approach for IT managers to:

* Deploy virtual computer systems;
* Discover/inventory virtual computer systems;
* Manage the lifecycle of virtual computer systems;

* Create/modify/delete virtual resources; and

* Monitor virtual systems for health and performance.

This type of standard development effort is important to both public and private sector organizations as they strive to adopt vendor-neutral solutions for the packaging of virtual machines (VM) and the metadata required to automatically and securely install and deploy a virtual appliance on a virtualization platform. This is why the DMTF has introduced the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) to address the portability and deployment of virtual appliances. Thanks to the OVF standard within VMAN, independent software vendors can create a single pre-packaged virtual appliance that can run on a customer's virtualization platforms of choice. Tools based on VMAN profiles enable consistent management and monitoring of virtual applications across a virtualized platform. These technologies will allow ISVs and platform vendors to focus their development resources on higher value features of their products, instead of creating different versions of products for each environment.

DMTF's VMAN standard development effort will focus on the discovery and inventory of virtual systems, as well as the management of the lifecycle of virtual machines, the creation, modification and deletion of virtual resources and the monitoring of virtual machines for health and performance. Major players, such as AMD, Broadcom, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, VMware, and Citrix have all pledged support for the VMAN and OVF standards. With so many leading virtualization infrastructure vendors promoting the OVF and VMAN standards, industry observers say it makes perfect sense for government organizations to look into these standard developments as they migrate from traditional IT computing to virtualized operations.