VMwares Greene: OS-Based Virtualization Reduces Freedom of Choice

Q&A: Open source is important for virtualization expansion, but the technology must be separate from the operating system, says the company's president.

For almost nine years, VMware was, for the most part, the only real player in the field of x86 virtualization technology. Over the past couple of years, that has changed, as enterprises have realized the benefits of virtualization and more players have entered the arena. The technology will be a key topic of conversation at this weeks LinuxWorld show in Boston. VMware President Diane Greene spoke with eWEEK Senior Editor Jeffrey Burt about the virtualization space, new competitors and VMwares role in the open source community.

How would you describe VMwares relationship with the open-source community?

It goes way back. Weve always worked quite well with the open-source community. In fact, when we first launched our workstation in 1999, it was Workstation for Linux, and weve donated code along the way and we cooperate very closely with the Linux community and make sure we support Linux extremely well and in a timely way. We also are working with them around a transparent way to do paravirtualization, offering some of what weve developed as a starting point and offering our APIs and so forth.

People in the open-source community have said that VMware, in the wake of Xen and other open-source virtualization projects, has become more approachable to the community, more friendly with it. Can you comment on that?

Thats surprising for me to hear because weve always … tried to work as well as possible with the open-source community. Weve donated a tremendous amount of our software to open-source projects. … Our support and our efforts with the Linux vendors date back to the very beginning. I remember when Red Hat launched something in 1999 a partner program, we were one of the first people to sign up for that.

But I think maybe what theyre seeing is that the open-source community has gotten a lot more interested in virtualization and were there to work with them and embrace that, so theres a lot more points of contact and cooperation because theyve ramped up their own interest in virtualization.

At LinuxWorld, VMware is going to be releasing a significant amount of technology to the open-source community. Can you talk about what youll be doing and why?

We already have put out there with the Linux community a virtual machine interface, which is a starting point for where you can have transparent paravirtualization. So thats a way to run an operating system in a virtual machine have that exact same binary, that exact same operating system, able to run on native hardware with no changes. And its way to improve the performance of how that operating system runs in a virtualized environment. So were putting that out there.

Were offering everything we do as standards. Weve had an SDK [software developer kit] out there, and we make those APIs available to people openly and give people access to that, too, with our SDK 2.0. That gets to how people can manage and manipulate their virtual machines.

We strongly believe that, if there are widely used standard ways to manipulate virtual machines, run operating systems in virtual machines and so forth, its going to be very good for the customers and for a bigger ecosystem around virtualization and adoption of virtualization. Thats good for all of us, and of course, thats good for VMware.

For an industry to grow, you want everybody working together.

Next Page: Xen on the radar.