Virtualization juggernaut opens code to partners

This week, VMware opened up the source code to its flagship product, VMware ESX Server, to a host of vendors in the x86 space.

Virtualization software company VMware Inc. said Monday it opened up the source code to its flagship product, the VMware ESX Server, to its partners.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based subsidiary of EMC Corp. released its code to a large number of x86 vendors, including Advanced Micro Devices, BEA Systems, Inc. BMC Software Inc., Broadcom Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Dell Inc., Emulex Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp., Mellanox Technologies, Novell Inc., QLogic and Red Hat Inc.

The initiative, called VMware Community Source, provides industry partners with an opportunity to access VMware ESX Server source code under a royalty-free license. Those vendors can contribute shared code or create binary modules, and can participate in the governance of VMware ESX Server through an architecture board.

VMware said this will accelerate the development of virtualization-ready applications and expand interoperability with VMware's platform.

According to Charles King, principal analyst with Hayward Calif.-based Pund-IT Research, VMware has become the de facto platform for x86 virtualization, and this move will help it continue that trend.

"By allowing access to the API [application programming interface], they make it easier for developers to create products on the system," King said. "Opening up an API is a great way to get people involved with your platform."

King said the move will also undercut the progress of Xen, an open source competitor to VMware.

"In the last quarter's earnings, [VMware] has shown stunning growth," King said. "Virtualization at the lower end for server consolidation is interesting to a lot of people."

Hypervisors are the building blocks of the virtualized computing environment that allows a system to be partitioned into multiple environments. The initial step in the release of the code will include VMware's virtual machine, Hypervisor Interface. According to VMware, this will facilitate the development of standards in an industry-neutral manner that will promote interoperability and supportability across heterogeneous virtualized environments.

According to VMware president Diane Greene, "Virtualization is gaining widespread adoption due to its indisputable customer benefits. It is an area rich in opportunities and the ecosystem will develop most fully with open standards. VMware is thus taking our industry-leading products, opening up the APIs and providing shared governance and source access to them.

"We look forward to this next phase of increased partner collaboration and believe it is the best possible way to give customers the ability to realize the full potential of the x86 virtualization layer."

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