Citrix has released a technical preview of a toolkit that allows developers to create portable virtual machine (VM) appliances across a number of platforms.

Project Kensho was first announced back in July this year, and now it is being released today as open source software under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL), in order to "accelerate adoption of the industry standard for portable packaging of applications and virtual machines (VMs), as well as management of virtual infrastructure."

So what exactly is Project Kensho? In essence, it is a project designed to solve a multitude of issues with interoperability between different virtual platforms. It is actually a multi-hypervisor toolkit that utilises the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Open Virtualisation Format (OVF).

It aims to allow ISVs and IT managers to easily create independent and portable virtual machine appliances that are more independent of hypervisors. This will make it easier for enterprises to run a mixed environment, which is important as virtualisation becomes an increasingly accepted technology in the enterprise.

Virtualised application workloads can be packaged as a secure, portable, pre-configured open standard virtual appliance, and can be imported and run on either Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, and VMware ESX virtual environments.

"We are excited about the opportunities that a portable virtual machine and virtual appliance infrastructure offer our customers, ISV partners, and the market at large," said Simon Crosby, CTO of the Virtualisation and Management Division at Citrix in a statement.

Project Kensho is available as a free download, as of Tuesday, at the Citrix Developer Network.

Crosby hopes that by releasing the core components of Project Kensho, it will accelerate the adoption of OVF as an industry standard portable VM format.

In addition, Citrix has partnered with rPath to enable these DMTF-based virtual appliances on clouds such as Amazon EC2. This collaboration will allow Linux and Windows based OVF appliances created on XenServer or Hyper-V to be installed and run in the cloud.