Since the VMWorld conference in September 2007, the way in which organisations can implement virtualisation has witnessed a plethora of new and different solutions to enable customers to deploy a virtualised infrastructure. But is all this choice killing the goose that lays the virtual golden eggs?
The most recent announcement of a new virtualisation solution was that of Parallels (formerly known as SWSoft) with its new Parallels Virtuozzo Containers Version 4.0 solution. According to Parallels, by the end of 2008 this solution will allow movement of virtual machines (VMs) between its Parallels' Hypervisor approach and its Virtuozzo Containers operating system virtualisation solution.
This announcement is just the latest since September 2007 when VMware stated that it was OEMing its ESX V3i Hypervisor so that a customer can purchase a virtualisation-ready server, without needing to install and licence the product from VMware.
This was followed in December by Microsoft announcing its Hyper-V solution, which is being shipped as part of its new Windows 2008 operating system.
Not to be left out, both Sun and Oracle also announced Xen-based Hypervisor solutions that could be downloaded, and the OpenVZ project has released a version of Ubuntu 7.10 preconfigured with its open source operating system virtualisation software, which allows users to set up Ubuntu OpenVZ virtual machines on top of an existing Linux system.
These announcements re-emphasise the point that too much choice does not necessarily translate into increased adoption. In fact, too many different solutions that do not interoperate with each other could lead to market stagnation.
Recent evidence of the nervousness of markets was the stock market price fall of VMware shares, which was in part as a result of what analysts consider weak sales forecasts for 2008.
To emphasise this effectively, an organisation could, in 2008, purchase a Dell server that has an embedded VMware Hypervisor, install Windows 2008 with its embedded Hypervisor, and then download Oracle OVM to support its Oracle applications providing a third Hypervisor.
In fact, the VMs created on one would not (if it were possible to have three Hypervisors on a single physical server, which it is not) be able to operate between these different solutions, and therein lies the problem. Customers are beginning to feel that virtualisation can equal vendor lock-in, and many are delaying any projects while a deeper understanding of the implications of their choices are investigated.
Butler Group expects to see significant movement on the efforts of VMware, Xen, and Microsoft at working toward some published standards so that interoperability between Hypervisors and operating systems will not act as a dragnet slowing the broader adoption rate of virtualisation technologies.
We do not anticipate that the Open Virtual Machine Forum will produce a single standard to be adopted and ratified in 2008; rather we expect Microsoft, Xen, and VMware to produce different standards (or different approaches) to how interoperability can be achieved, and we will see more partnering announcements demonstrating the extended reach each can support.
We consider that this would represent a major advance forward, and provide customers with some clear information about what the limitations are for their chosen virtualisation approach, and help continue the wider adoption of virtualisation solutions.