VMware, in a nod to the Linux operating systems way of working, is unlocking its server virtualization software.
The EMC Corp.-owned software maker on Monday said it would open its virtualization technology for x86 servers—virtualization partitions a server to run different types of software and thus tackle different jobs simultaneously—by making its VMware ESX Server software source code and interfaces available to partners under a new royalty-free program called VMware Community Source.
VMware Inc.s aim, the Palo Alto, Calif., company said in a statement, is to offer the computer industry a way to define virtualization standards, putting a broad range of hardware and software makers on the same page.
The resulting collaboration, in its view, will help foster a larger number of interoperable products and at the same time increase the use of the technology, the company said.
"Virtualization is gaining widespread adoption due to its indisputable customer benefits," Diane Greene, VMwares president, said in a statement.
However, Greene said, "The ecosystem will develop most fully with open standards. VMware is thus taking our industry-leading products, opening up the APIs and providing shared governance and source access to them. We look forward to this next phase of increased partner collaboration and believe it is the best possible way to give customers the ability to realize the full potential of the x86 virtualization layer."
VMware, whose products compete with offerings from Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc., which offers an open-source virtualization technology that runs on Linux, also appears to be working to keep itself top of mind as virtualization technology, which was once available only on high-end systems, becomes more popular.
Of late, the technology has begun making its way from high-end servers into relatively inexpensive, x86 processor machines.
VMware will adopt at least some of Linuxs principals by using an open collaboration and governance system. Licensees will help set the direction of the ESX Server softwares development. To get the effort started, VMWare said it would contribute its Virtual Machine Hypervisor Interfaces (VMHI), an existing framework of software interfaces for virtualization.
The hypervisor, which acts like virtualizations traffic cop, is the key to the technology. Thus, collaboration on open hypervisor standards is vital to the broader effort. The VMware-inspired effort is expected to focus on creating frameworks that work across multiple platforms and smooth out the operation and management of virtualization on different platforms, the company said.
The adoption of virtualization by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp., and, by extension, their server manufacturing customers, is expected to popularize virtualization, which was previously only available with software from Microsoft, VMware and XenSource, for x86 servers used by businesses.
AMD and Intel, which each announced support for VMwares Community Source initiative on Monday, will separately release server processors with virtualization capabilities built in during 2006.
Dell Inc., which already has a partnership with VMware, has said it is looking forward to adding virtualization-equipped processors to its servers. The company said it believes the chips will boost the capabilities of standard, x86-processor servers and allow them to better compete with more expensive machines running Unix.
VMware has also gained support from a number of companies, including BEA Systems Inc., BMC Software Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Novell Inc., and Red Hat Inc., along with hardware makers Cisco Systems Inc., Dell, Emulex Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Mellanox Technologies Inc. and QLogic Corp.