On July 15th, we at Citrix announced our work on Project Kensho, a set of tools that makes it easier to adopt the DMTF OVF (Open Virtual Machine Format) specification for virtual machine portability between different hypervisors and virtualization platforms.  OVF will allow IT organizations and software developers to capture, deliver and import virtual machines in a common format; Kensho will make it easy to do so. 

This morning in my keynote at LinuxWorld I announcedthat the tools will not only be easy to use… but the core Kensho components will also be free, not only distributed at no cost (“free beer”) but licensed under an open source license (“free speech”) as well, to encourage open development and wider adoption. 

The free distribution of Kensho will include the export/import tools we’ve already talked about, making it easy for ISVs and IT to export any VMware, Hyper-V or XenServer virtual machines and to import them into XenServer and Hyper-V (VMware is shipping its own OVF import capability). The open availability of source code, and the right to extend it, will make it possible for other Xen implementations, other hypervisors, and even other non-hypervisor technologies to participate in, and benefit from, the OVF ecosystem.  This will enable easier distribution, opening the floodgates for a vast pool of powerful and innovative apps and tools. As proliferation of both free and proprietary software in virtual machines grows, and users will benefit from increased portability, a greater number of technology choices, and reduced operational friction in selecting their platforms. 

For maximum flexibility and portability, Kensho will support all major virtual disk file formats -- including the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) format used in the Xen-based Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). In addition to OVF support, the Kensho code will include a complete DMTF SVPC (System Virtualization, Partitioning and Clustering) CIM provider for Xen.  This will extend the management options for implementations of Xen, including but not restricted to XenServer.

We are on track to make the first tech preview available in September.

Together, these capabilities released in Kensho will increase choice for users, and help remove some barriers.  The candidate pool of servers that can benefit from virtualization is barely tapped.  With the free availability of the Kensho technology, we’re taking another step toward making virtualization fast, free, ubiquitous, and compatible.