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VMware gets a little open-source religion

VMware took a step into open source today. This is good news for customers. Bad news for competitors.

Apparently the road to victory in virtualization is heavily paved with open source. That's the lesson I'm taking from VMware's announcement today that it will be releasing a majority of VMware Tools as open source software as part of the project Open Virtual Machine Tools.

As VMware gets into open source, even if it's only dipping its toes right now, it makes it much harder for others (Xen, Virtual Iron, etc.) to compete. This is a smart initial move, but will become better if VMware keeps moving down this path.

From the press release:

Open Virtual Machine Tools enables VMware to better support customers by integrating with Linux distribution partners to streamline the delivery, maintenance and support of these guest OS components. This open source project is designed to enable VMware to work with the broader community to make the benefits of virtualization more accessible. Areas of expected collaboration with the community include porting to new operating systems, increasing user involvement in the development and testing process, and creating innovative technologies. Open Virtual Machine Tools is also expected to benefit other open source virtualization projects as well as enable enhanced manageability and performance for VMware virtual appliances.

"VMware has always been a supporter of the Linux and open source communities and is committed to increasing our active participation. With the launch of the Open Virtual Machine Tools project, we are expanding our commitment to open technology initiatives and fostering additional innovation and collaboration," said Dr. Stephen Herrod, vice president of technology development at VMware. "This significant move will also improve our customers' ability to use the latest and diverse guest operating systems as well as pave the way for a wide variety of virtual appliances."

Virtualization should benefit from this, and that means customers win. I don't know the virtualization market well enough to comment beyond that, but this looks positive to me as an outsider.