Convirture logoChoice is usually a great thing, but it has its downsides. In IT, one of them is the complexity of managing the host of different configurations that arise when users have lots of competing software products to choose from. But software company Convirture has set its sights on this problem with the announcement of a new tool for managing a variety of cloud platforms from one central location.

Few software niches are as diverse these days as cloud infrastructure. From the open source virtualization hypervisors KVM and Xen, to proprietary alternatives such as VMware (NYSE: VMW), the engines that power cloud environments can vary greatly. To make matters more complicated, prepackaged cloud platforms such as Amazon (NASDAQ; AMZN) EC2 abstract some of the underlying technology from users, a strategy that in theory simplifies management but in practice can make monitoring and control more difficult.

In an ideal world, every organization would choose a single cloud strategy and set of management tools, and stick with them. But in reality, of course, large and complex organizations are rarely able to enforce such consistency across expansive IT environments.

ConVirt Enterprise Cloud

This is the issue Convirture seeks to capitalize on with the release of the beta of a new version of ConVirt Enterprise Cloud. The forthcoming product, billed as "a single tool to manage all current and future virtual and cloud infrastructures, including those based on KVM, Xen, OpenStack, Amazon EC2 and now VMware," promises to centralize and simplify monitoring and maintenance of diverse cloud environments.

Such a solution could be a major boon to organizations with highly complex and mixed cloud environments. It won't solve all compatibility issues, since managing the cloud is only one slice of the pie. But it will make it easier to control cloud-based applications based on a range of disparate technologies.

Bridging Open and Closed Source Worlds

Previous versions of ConVirt Enterprise Cloud focused mainly on open source hypervisors, especially KVM and Xen. The latest version, however, brings Convirture solidly into the proprietary world as well by adding support for cloud infrastructures based on VMware's ESXi and vCenter products. That's a major new direction for the company, which previously has restricted its engagement mostly to the open source channel.

In this respect, Convirture is the latest example of a software company bridging the open source and proprietary worlds, which traditionally have been separated by pervasive technical and ideological walls. Canonical, which has worked hard to attract proprietary contributions to its software stack, is doing something similar, as are -- from the other side of the divide -- closed source developers, such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), when they make their products available for open source platforms.

And so times may be changing. As many open source developers now no longer suffer moral quandaries about cooperating with proprietary projects, and as open standards make programming for a wide array of platforms easier, the open and closed source worlds may cease to become the polar opposites they have traditionally been.