Open Virtualization Alliance

On May 17, 2011, a batch of top tech firms banding together to support the development and uptake of an open-source application that ships with the Linux kernel. At the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, BMC Software, Eucalyptus Systems, HP, IBM, Intel, Red Hat, and SUSE announced the formation of the Open Virtualization Alliance (OVA), a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to "fostering the adoption of open virtualization technologies, including Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)" for customers using virtualization on Linux and Windows platforms. KVM is a GNU-licensed, open-source virtualization tool that first shipped with Linux kernel 2.6.20. According to a press release, "the goal of the alliance is to provide education, best practices and technical advice to help businesses understand and evaluate their virtualization options, including open source alternatives such as KVM."

The gang of seven grew quickly, with an announcement on June 23 that 65 additional companies had joined the alliance. The four governing members are HP, IBM, Intel, and Red Hat, and as of now, the general membership has grown to 146. The group is still actively seeking additional members; membership is open, but alliance members pay annual dues based on type of membership. The OVA bylaws permit up to five governing members, and some have wondered who that fifth member will be, with speculation about both Apple and Microsoft.

According to the OVA website, many of the member companies have been collaborating on Linux and other open source projects for years (not to mention competing for customers in various markets), and all members are required to be users and/or contributors to ongoing development of KVM. But it appears that one thing they won’t be up to is changing or interfering with the current community-based development process for KVM. According to the FAQ page, "Upstream development communities will be unchanged by the Alliance. And we don't anticipate any changes to IBM's current development relationship with Red Hat around KVM. The OVA's activities are 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."

Additionally, the alliance aims to facilitate work on KVM, increase the number of and adoption of KVM-based tools, market and promote KVM, develop best practices information on design, host KVM-related events, provide educational material, and increase participation in the project.

According to the OVA website, one common misconception is that KVM isn’t ready for enterprise deployment. The OVA believes that recent advances in performance, security, and scalability make KVM as "enterprise-ready" as its competitors. The alliance’s effort to provide sales and service opportunities for KVM solutions should eventually yield some much-needed open-source competition to a market that has thus far been dominated by products from VMware and Citrix, and to a lesser degree, Microsoft.

Keep an eye on OVA at http://www.openvirtualizationalliance.org/, or visit the KVM project at http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Main_Page.

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