The Open Virtualization Alliance: A Direct Shot At VMware

by Ostatic Staff - May. 19, 2011

There have been several big announcements at this week's Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco, but perhaps none is bigger than the formation of the Open Virtualization Alliance. Backed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Novell, BMC, and Eucalyptus Systems, the alliance is designed to promote an open source virtualization stack built atop the KVM hypervisor, which Red Hat has been promoting all along. The new group represents another clear signal that open source-based stacks will play a prominent role in the rise of cloud computing, and VMware, with its own open Cloud Foundry initiatitve, should be watching this development very closely.

The unstated goal of the Open Virtualization Alliance is clearly to compete directly with VMware, and more specifically, its members will encourage the adoption of KVM and the building of tools to make it more powerful and flexible. The alliance will purportedly, according to its homepage:

  • Enable KVM-based solutions and facilitates bringing them to market.

  • Increase the adoption and number of KVM-based solutions.

  • Increase confidence in KVM-based solutions through marketing and promotional activities. This is intended to complement the processes and structures already in place in the open source community while recognizing that software, technology roadmaps, specifications, and development will continue to take place within those community processes.

  • Publish best practices on design guidance for KVM-based solutions in the form of design patterns, blueprints, reference architectures, and more.

  • Host industry and other marketing events.
  • Educate the marketplace about KVM and KVM-based solutions.

  • Solicit the participation of all interested parties on a fair, equitable, and open basis.

 It's also clear that the Open Virtualization Alliance is actively seeking partners. However, consider the partners that the alliance already has. IBM, Intel and HP are already VMware partners, so their presence in the new alliance is a giant boost for Red Hat and the KVM hypervisor. Some are also interpreting their participation as a slap in the fact to VMware. 

VMware maintains the highest market share in virtualization, and it has steadily responded to the rise of open virtualization strategies by pushing its own, as evidenced by Cloud Foundry. The recently launched effort differs from VMware's usual playbook in a number of ways, especially with its focus on open source.

In the past, when meeting with the folks from VMware, and asking them about how virtualization is becoming commoditized and available widely (it's freely available in many operating systems now), they have steadfastly made the point to me that virtualization is actually a very tough computing problem. There is no doubt that VMware is a leader at solving such problems, but virtualization is becoming commoditized, and the backers of the Open Virtualization Alliance know a lot about it.

VMware has to pay close attention to this new consortium, which already has buy-in from many of its largest existing technology partners.