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VMware exec: On free specs, virtualization's boost for Linux

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VMware is opening up its virtual machine disk format specification, but today's news is about sharing, not open sourcing technologies.

VMware's decision to share at no cost its format specification with developers and vendors will spur big gains in virtualization innovation, according to Dan Chu, senior director of developer/ISV products for VMware, an EMC company in Palo Alto, Calif. Meanwhile, says Chu in this interview, virtualization is knocking down barriers to enterprise Linux and open source software adoption.

Why did VMware decide to share its core virtual machine disk format specification?

Dan Chu: People with large enterprise environments are fully standardizing on VMware; but they also depend on a whole set of key vendors -- like BMC and Symantec -- to provide other functions to do such things as manipulate, update, patch and back up data and systems.

The virtual machine format and specification defines everything from how the application operating system is encapsulated to how it is then put onto a data file system or local or network storage. Giving unrestricted access to the core formats and interfaces and APIs around virtualization lets any developer leverage and develop on top of virtualization. Their innovations will make server virtualization easier to deploy and manage and more highly optimized for customers.

Before this, you would have to either reverse engineer or enter into a very proprietary license that would be restrictive and inhibit development against virtualized environment. We want to make it fully open.

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