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Novell Expands Cloud Computing Linux to Amazon

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Aug 12, 2010


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BOSTON -- Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is now available on Amazon's cloud as a pay-per-use operating system. The move follows similar efforts from rivals Red Hat and Ubuntu, though Novell executives stressed that their approach is different. Novell extends its SUSE Linux to run on Amazon EC2 as efforts ramp up among Linux vendors to offer customers ways to transition their workloads to cloud computing environments.

The Amazon EC2 SLES service is part of Novell's Cloud Program to help enable cloud providers to deliver Novell's Linux.

"It's actually resold by Amazon, which is part of the big news -- it all goes through Amazon and there is no need to talk to us," Markus Rex, senior vice president and general manager of Open Platform Solutions at Novell, told InternetNews.com. "That is different than our peers."

Rex, who also spoke here about cloud-based Linux workloads at this week's LinuxCon conference, noted that Novell is also different in that it also has tools to enable users to create their own cloud instances. Namely, that's the SUSE Studio service, through which users can build their own software appliance. The system can build software images that can run on physical or virtual hardware and can be deployed as an Amazon image as well.

He added that Novell even used the one-year old SUSE Studio to build its Amazon image.

Other Linux players have warmed to the idea of enabling enterprise server and software users to migrate to the cloud as well. Rival Linux distribution Ubuntu recently announced a new IBM DB2 appliance for Amazon EC2. For that offering, Ubuntu developers worked with IBM to optimize DB2 for Ubuntu in the cloud. Ubuntu also leverages the Eucalyptus open source project to provide functionality for both public and private cloud deployments.

While Rex noted that Novell is not using Eucalyptus -- which enables private cloud deployments to migrate to an Amazon EC2 public cloud -- he instead said that Novell is working on its own public and private cloud enablement technology.

"Eucalyptus is focused on one use case," Rex said. "Our goal is to be as cloud-agnostic as we can be. We believe there will be other cloud vendors and we'd rather focus our work on standardized APIs that work across numerous platforms."

With the emergence of cloud-based, pay-per-use SLES, Rex does not see the cloud model as cannibalizing Novell's existing business, in which enterprises pay yearly subscription fees.

"It is an alternative for those that don't need a full subscription," Rex said. "It's not a cannibalization; it's an evolution of the business model."

Supporting that stance is the fact that not all workloads can or will move to the cloud. For instance, Rex noted that workloads that are seasonal and have peak periods are often good candidates for cloud deployment.

"There is other data that I don't think has a great home in the cloud," Rex said. "Sensitive data probably won't be moving into public clouds. So there will always be a need for a need for duality in approach."

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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