Much standards work is needed, but vendors will be motivated
This situation may be resolved by the adoption of standards that the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF) is currently developing as part of its VMAN initiative, with the support of every major server virtualisation supplier. But the DMTF has a lot of work ahead of it. The only server virtualisation standard widely used at present is the DMTFs Open Virtualization Format (OVF), but at present OVF is only rudimentary. VMAN will include an API for customers to remotely manage their cloud-hosted virtual servers. VMwares vCloud API is vying for attention in this role, as will the API for the Xen communitys forthcoming XCP open source cloud platform.
Vendors stick to proprietary standards to isolate their customer bases from their competitors. But when markets become sufficiently mixed, suppliers concede to customer pressure to adopt industry standards. The good news is that the critical level of heterogeneity could be reached relatively soon in server virtualisation. The enterprise server virtualisation market is set to be dominated by VMware and Microsoft within the next two to three years, while public clouds will be using some mix of VMware and Xen-based software. That would see three virtualisation platforms in common use across private and public clouds. There is no guarantee that this will happen, but the prospects of relatively quick standards adoption are coming sooner than they have in other IT sectors.
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