Microsoft Removes Obstacle to Adoption of Its VHD Spec

 
 
By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-10-17 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The company's Virtual Hard Disk image format specification will now be available to users at no cost and with the guarantee that it will never take legal action against them under its Open Specification Promise.

Microsoft has decided to make its Virtual Hard Disk image format specification available to users at no cost and with the guarantee that it will never take legal action against them. The VHD format will now be available to anybody wanting to use it under Microsofts Open Specification Promise, which the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker issued on its Interoperability Web page Sept. 12, when the company promised not to take any legal action against developers or customers who use any of 35 Web Service specifications.
Microsofts VHD format, which has been available since May 2005, captures the entire virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file.
"With the VHD format as a freely available specification, Microsoft is contributing to the continued expansion of the virtualization market by fostering interoperability among all commercial software solutions, including open source, Tom Robertson, the general manager for interoperability and standards at Microsoft, told eWEEK. Click here to read more about how Microsoft promised not to sue developers over 35 Web Service specifications. While the VHD format specification was previously available to anyone under a royalty-free license, the fact that users had to sign that agreement was seen as an impediment to its adoption, particularly by those in the open-source community, Jean Paoli, the general manager for interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft, told eWEEK.
"By making the VHD specification available under the OSP, we are removing that adoption obstacle, and the format can be used in a commercial or noncommercial context, including in an open-source environment," Paoli said. But Microsofts VHD format is not the only one available. VMware released its core virtual machine format and specification license-free earlier this year. The technology lets customers manage, patch, update and back up virtual environments. Dan Chu, VMwares senior director of developer and ISV products, said at the time that the move was another step in the companys push to create a larger ecosystem around virtualization. Patrick ORourke, a senior product manager in Microsofts Windows Server division, told eWEEK Oct. 16 that the companys goal was to make the benefits of virtualization available and usable to a broad audience. "This means a virtualization solution that is inexpensive, easy to implement, manageable and secure. In addition to Microsofts VHD and VMwares VMDK [Virtual Machine Disk Format], there is also a Xen format, and XenSource has licensed our VHD format," he said. There were tools in the market that converted VMDK-based virtual machines to VHD-based virtual machines, including Microsofts Virtual Server Migration Toolkit, Platespins PowerSDK and PowerConvert and LeoStreams P>V Direct 3.0. The Platespin and Leostream applications also convert VHD-based virtual machines to VMDK-based ones, ORourke said. "Further, Microsoft is already working with the industry in this area via the Virtual Server APIs and the VHD format. Windows customers and partners realize the value of standardizing on the Microsoft VHD format, as it is the Microsoft virtualization file format and offers migration across Virtual Server, Virtual PC, and the future Windows hypervisor," he said. To read more about Microsofts hypervisor technology, click here. This latest interoperability move is one of five that Microsoft has announced over the past four months and follows customer feedback that interoperability is as important to the software giant as security and reliability, Robertson said. "We know that heterogeneous IT systems are a reality, but how this all works together is everyones issue," he said. "Our goal is to provide interoperability by design, and we do that in four ways: making sure our products are interoperable out of the box; by working and collaborating with the community on ways to build bridges between technologies; by providing access to our technologies; and standardization, working in standards bodies to develop interoperable solutions and then deploy those," Robertson said. Next Page: Reaching out to the open-source community.



 
 
 
 
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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