"Project Kensho" is the name for a toolset that packages virtual appliances into the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF), making them easily transportable between Hyper-V from Microsoft, ESX from VMware, and XenServer from Citrix. Citrix said in the press release that a technical preview of the tools will be available in September.
The main benefit of OVF is that it allows virtual appliances -- applications and operating systems together in one package -- to move from one platform to another, helping to avoid vendor lock-in. Citrix, along with VMware, originally developed the OVF specification, with input from a number of industry heavyweights, including Microsoft, IBM, Dell and HP. OVF uses a standards-based XML wrapper containing configuration and installation data for the appliance, allowing any platform using OVF using the standard to run the virtual machine [VM] containing the appliance.
Chris Wolf, a Virtualization Review magazine columnist and Burton Group analyst specializing in virtualization, says Project Kensho is "a good start. The big thing with Kensho is that Citrix and Microsoft ... can package apps with OVF and share [VMs] from one to another. You don't need any additional device driver installation."
The press release highlighted the close relationship between the two companies, and took an oblique shot at VMware, the market leader:
"In addition, because of the open-standard format and special licensing features in OVF, customers can seamlessly move their current virtualized workloads to either XenServer or Hyper-V, enabling them to distribute virtual workloads to the platform of choice while simultaneously ensuring compliance with the underlying licensing requirements for each virtual appliance."
Since VMware has such a large share of the market space, "current virtualized workloads" likely means VMware-created VMs. Citrix and Microsoft go to great lengths to emphasize the interoperability of their virtualization products, and have banded together for some time in an effort to cut into VMware's substantial lead.
Wolf said that Kensho may have an effect down the road, since hypervisors are starting to become commoditized. From an IT administrator's view, he said, "If I change hypervisors, I don't have to change out management tools. I just need something that supports OVF."
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