With the new Xen.org announcement, there is a lot of motivation and excitement at Citrix and the Open Source Community. Adding to this, two weeks ago, Citrix released the latest Project Kensho Tech Preview:  Project Kensho 1.3.

This is an exciting time for Citrix as we strive to improve and build virtual appliance creation and consumption capabilities into the XenServer product line. Project Kensho is the primary driver for Citrix’s use of DMTF virtualization standards.  As with previous Project Kensho standalone releases, this release includes support for the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) and the Common Information Model (CIM). Two different utilities are provided at the Project Kensho download site:  The Project Kensho OVF Tool and the XenServer CIM interface.  

In the coming days, the Project Kensho team will provide more information and details on these utilities.  However, before getting too involved in the details, let’s quickly highlight what each utility offers.

XenServer CIM Interface

The XenServer CIM interface facilitates access to XenServer management functions from standards based APIs.  This greatly simplifies coding for partners and customers who create utilities to run against a XenServer environment and other hypervisors by reducing the amount of code to maintain for each environment. 

There are quite a few improvements in the interface, let’s take a look:

Easy to Use:

Interoperable:

  •  Enable 3rd party manageability of XenServer using standards based interfaces 

Versatile:

  •  Provides access to major classes of XenServer functionality 

Accessible:

  •  Built on standards based DMTF VMAN specification 
  •  Free of charge; anyone can use 
  •  Open source; anyone can build management tools for XenServer 

The Project Kensho OVF Tool

Now, OVF is not new to Citrix.  Citrix has been a driver in DMTF in the creation of this specification.  We also see Kensho OVF technology in XenConvert 2.0.  With the Project Kensho OVF Tool 1.3, we open the door wider to a whole new world for Citrix partners and customers.  By leveraging the OVF standard, Citrix is piloting tools to make XenServer family the best of breed in virtual appliance offerings.  In fact, today, the Project Kensho OVF Tool is the fastest and easiest way to import VMware OVF/VMDK content into a XenServer environment.  More impressive, it can take that same VMware OVF/VMDK and import it into Microsoft’s Hyper-V as well.  The Project Kensho OVF Tool manages both XenServer and Hyper-V environments whether the task is creating or consuming OVF content. This utility enables virtual appliance  creation and consumption never experienced before via XenServer.

What makes OVF impressive is that it enables software vendors, integrators and end users of virtuallization technology with the ability to package virtual appliances in ways unattainable until now.  This standards based specification gives virtual appliance packagers and consumers a long list of options to ensure secure appliance packaging, package virtual appliance suites, archive into singe files, compress them, attach EULAs, as well as whole host of other capabilities. Imagine what this flexibility can do for your environment!

Below lists the numerous improvements and features in version 1.3:

Easy to Use:

  •  Simple installation on a Windows workstation or server class computer 
  •  Easy to navigate, user friendly UI  
  •  Can learn to use in minutes  
  •  Detailed admin guide 
  •  Training videos describing installation and virtual appliance packaging/deployment available from CitrixTV 
  •  Fast, attentive and helpful online support

Interoperable:

  •  Manage XenServer or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual appliance creation and consumption from the same UI at the same time 
  •  Consume VMware OVF content produced from any VMware utility in production 
  •  Directly import VMware VMDK virtual disks into XenServer or Hyper-V environments in one quick step 
  •  Automate fix up of VMware imported virtual machines (Windows or Linux) to boot cleanly into XenServer and Hyper-V environment 
  •  Share virtual appliances between Project Kensho OVF Tool and Citrix XenConvert 2.0.1  
  •  Compatible with localized Hyper-V hosts 

Versatile:

  •  Virtual appliance packaging of one or more virtual machines in to a virtual appliance suite 
  •  Compress virtual appliances into smaller files saving space and lowering transport time when copying
  •  Create single file archives of a virtual appliance making management of appliance content simple and straightforward 
  •  Easy mapping of resources between virtual appliance and hypervisor host during import into XenServer or Hyper-V 
  •  Attach EULA to virtual appliance to ensure end user agreement of virtual appliance application content prior to import 
  •  Create virtual appliances from virtual machines with snapshots 

Secure:

  •  Apply and verify digital signature to OVF to protect against tampering 
  •  Encrypt virtual appliance files to protect appliance content from unauthorized use 

Reliable:

  •  Create and verify a manifest of each file and its checksum in the appliance package 
  •  Verify OVF formatting for errors prior to import 

Accessible:

  •  Built on standards based OVF 1.0.0 virtual appliance specification 
  •  Free of charge; anyone can use 
  •  Open source; anyone can build virtual appliance tools for XenServer