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VMware vs. Citrix vs. Microsoft: The Programmability of Top Hypervisors

  • February 7, 2011
  • By Bruce Bookman
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For developers, virtualization offers an amazing opportunity to work more efficiently, contribute to savings in internal infrastructure operating expenses, and contribute to building out cloud technologies. Each of the major hypervisor vendors offers various methods of automating tasks for its platform; Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware have packages of offerings targeted at the development community. Further, some offer software application packaging and software distribution solutions.

One exciting area helping to ease and speed up development and test activities is leveraging automation everywhere in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), including the code, build, debug, test, stage and deploy stages. Another helpful development are ITIL offerings that allow for further application lifecycle control. And a hot field right now is desktop delivery based on virtualization (Virtual Desktop).

In this article, I break down the SDKs available for cloud development and other offerings such as code samples for the three leading hypervisors.

VMware Has Longest Hypervisor Product History and Most Offerings

VMware offers an extensive API suite for vSphere and vCenter automation including a Web Services SDK, Guest OS programmability, PHP, Perl, and Java SDKs and more. It also offers a complex deployment orchestration tool known as VMware vCenter Orchestrator which allows the automation of both VMware tasks as well as automating other IT infrastructure to accomplish IT tasks.

Leveraging the power of virtualization to the task of developing software, VMware vCenter Lab Manager offers an extensive SOAP API set that can provide solutions for test automation, build automation, and ease of access to development environments and tools. This includes integration points with HP BTO applications such as HP Quality Center

Third party software developers have leveraged the VMware SDKs to build entire applications and businesses around managing VMware infrastructure. Hence it is clear these tools are well tested in the real world and contain the tools needed to accomplish almost any task.

Large armies of software engineers (and IT experts) also share tips and tricks via VMware communities, making the platform that much more programmable. The ecosystem of users, developers, testers, and business process tool vendors ensures a vibrant and strong neighborhood of help for the software engineer.

Beyond what VMware offers, companies such as Electric Cloud have made use of the VMware SDK to offer developers the ability to leverage virtualization in the software build process. Electric Cloud offers build parallelization for increased build speed. They also offer build-test-deploy tools using virtualization as the underpinnings. And companies such as Abiquo offer single-pane-of-glass cloud management tools that allow PaaS or cloud service vendors to easily control plug-and-play on-demand offerings for either on-premise cloud or remote cloud. The table below lists the VMware programmer offerings.




vSphere PowerCLI

PowerShell based CLI for managing vSphere

vSphere Administrator

vSphere Command Line Interface (vCLI)

The VMware vSphere CLI provides command-line interface tools for managing vSphere ESX and ESXi servers.

vSphere Administrator

vSphere Web Services SDK

The VMware vSphere Web Services SDK provides a powerful and flexible toolkit for software developers to build management applications for the vSphere platform

Software Developer

vSphere SDK for Perl

The vSphere SDK for Perl provides an easy-to-use Perl scripting interface to the vSphere API. SDK ships with utilities and documentation for building vSphere management applications.

Software Developer

VMware Disk Development Kit

The Virtual Disk Development Kit is a collection of C libraries, code samples, utilities, and documentation to help developers create or access VMware virtual disk storage.

Software Developer


VIX provides a programming interface for managing and automating the OS guests inside your virtual machines

Software Developers, vSphere Administrators

vSphere Guest SDK

The VMware vSphere Guest SDK provides fast access to resource management information.

Software Developers


Common Information Model (CIM) is an interface based on industry standards for building ESX/ESXi management applications. CIM SMASH/Server Management API features profiles compatible with the DMTF's System Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) initiative. SMASH profiles allow CIM clients to monitor system health of a managed server.

Software Developers

vCloud SDK for Java

VMware vCloud SDK for Java allows you to get started interfacing quickly using the vCloud API. It brings the REST-based vCloud API in the world of Java developers by providing easy-to-use client-side representation of vCloud resources and hiding the details of REST and HTTP.

Software Developers

vCloud SDK for PHP

VMware vCloud SDK for PHP provides interfaces to VMware vCloud Director. It is an easy-to-use PHP language binding to write vCloud API clients. The current version of VMware vCloud SDK for PHP is based on VMware vCloud REST APIs version 1.0.

Software Developers

vCenter ChargeBack API

The vCloud API is an interface for providing and consuming virtual resources in the cloud. It enables deploying and managing virtualized workloads in private, public, and hybrid clouds. The vCloud API enables the upload and download of vApps along with their instantiation, deployment, and operation.

Software Developers

VMware ThinApp SDK

The ThinApp SDK provides an open API to allow access to information about the ThinApp packages. This API enables developers to integrate ThinApp virtualized applications into existing Enterprise Delivery Systems or their own custom process or applications.

Software Developers

Table courtesy of VMware

Tags: virtualization, cloud development

Originally published on http://www.developer.com.

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