VMware Embraces Novell's SUSE Linux OS for Appliances

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Jun 9, 2010


Virtualization vendor VMware and Novell are entering into a new partnership that will see VMware distributing Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) as part of its vSphere appliances. New deal will see SLES packaged with vSphere appliances as VMware chooses a default Linux distribution for its offering.

As a result, VMware vSphere virtual machine users will now get SLES support subscriptions bundled in as part of their vSphere licenses, which in turn could make administrators' jobs easier.

"By standardizing the OS for VMware virtual appliances, VMware will be simplifying the deployment and ongoing management of our virtual appliance-based products," Bogomil Balkansky, vice president of product marketing at VMware (NYSE: VMW), told InternetNews.com.

The partnership could help to give Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) a leg up on its Linux rivals as VMware solidifies part of Linux efforts around SLES. However, the deal doesn't mean that VMware is standardizing on Linux across all of its offerings, according to Balkansky.

Nor does the fact that the VMware virtual appliances are being distributed with SLES mean that all of VMware's users will be restricted to Novell's Linux. Balkansky said that for any business applications running on Linux, VMware customers have complete freedom of choice to deploy any Linux version as a guest OS.

"This offering does not mark any change in VMware's longstanding strategy of operating system neutrality," Balkansky said. "VMware remains committed to providing customers flexibility and freedom of choice, and we will continue to support the widest range of operating systems, including RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), other Linux distributions and Microsoft."

Novell has an interoperability and patent agreement with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) that rival Linux vendor Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) does not have, though Balkansky said the fact that Novell has such a deal did not have an impact on VMware's decision to choose SUSE Linux .

Balkansky added the pricing for vSphere Support and Subscription (SnS) remains the same as prior to the announcement.

"What is included with the vSphere SnS, though, is the update stream for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server," he said. "If customers would like to also receive technical support for SLES from VMware, they would have to purchase that option separately from VMware."

Boost for Novell Virtual Appliances

With the new VMware deal, additional revenue will be flowing into Novell. A Novell spokesperson told InternetNews.com that the company will receive revenues when VMware ships SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware with VMware vSphere. Additionally, Novell will also receive revenues if VMware customers elect to upgrade for full support.

Novell has been active in virtual software appliance space in recent years with its SUSE Studio and Novell SUSE Appliance Program. With the Novell SUSE Appliance Program, users are provided with tools to build appliances. IBM (NYSE: IBM) is among the vendors that has already bought into Novell's Appliance effort with software appliances for IBM Lotus, Websphere and Cognos software applications.

At this point, it's not clear if the Novell Appliance program will be expanded to provide users of that effort with some sort of VMware vSphere-specific optimizations. Novell's spokesperson said that the details have yet to be decided and that more information will be announced at a later date.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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