Feeds

Citrix: Novell's only option for virtualization marriage

Rush to beat Red Hat, repent at leisure

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

What is commercial Linux distributor Novell going to do about server and desktop virtualization?

It's a good question, and one that the company's top brass has not really addressed.

In July 2006, with the launch of SUSE Linux 10, Novell was the first commercial Linux vendor to ship a Xen hypervisor tuned for Linux. And it is arguable that Novell probably jumped the gun, given the state of Xen, its management tools, and Novell's support of other operating systems beside SLES 10 at the time with its embedded Xen product.

Red Hat certainly thought so. It delayed its embedded Xen support for its Enterprise Linux 5.0 distro until the following March, and then after further consideration, decided to chuck Xen in favor of the KVM hypervisor that it now controls thanks to its $107m acquisition of Qumranet last September.

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, a KVM-based, freestanding server hypervisor, has been in beta for two months and is on track to be announced by the end of the year.

What is Novell doing? Well, it has support for Xen in SUSE Linux 11, of course, which debuted at the end of March, and yes, SLES 11 includes a technology preview of a KVM hypervisor.

But nobody wants to use a Linux distro to host Linux and Windows images. If that were the case, Red Hat would have stuck with Xen and its Advanced Platform version of RHEL 5.0 and be done with it. Free-standing hypervisors are the order of the day. And Novell doesn't have one.

VMware does, and has made lots of hay - OK, probably well north of $1bn - with its ESX family of hypervisors over the past several years. The new ESX Server 4.0 hypervisor and related vSphere 4.0 management tools, which were launched in April started shipping a month later, are better than their predecessors that have garnered dominant market share on x64 servers so far.

And from the look of things, ESX Server is not under much of a threat from Hyper-V R2 and its related Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, which was released to manufacturing in July and will ship later this year.

On the technical front, Hyper-V is not much of a threat to ESX Server, but the fact that Microsoft is giving away Hyper-V puts pricing pressure on VMware just the same because you can bet everyone is telling VMware how wonderful Hyper-V is gonna be. That must make VMware's president and chief executive, and ex-Microsoftie, Paul Maritz cringe.

The freebie XenServer 5.5 hypervisor from Citrix Systems, which was launched in February and started shipping in June, is also putting pricing pressure on VMware. With some tools from partners to help manage Xen-based VMs, XenServer 5.5 is probably the best iteration of Xen in the field to try to compete against VMware. And, considering Citrix shelled out $500m to buy XenSource, the commercial entity behind the Xen hypervisor project, it had better be.

While Citrix was last week crowing that it had more than 150,000 customers download the freebie XenServer, which is a full-featured, standalone hypervisor, it has yet to demonstrate that this will result in revenues.

Oracle is cranking up its server virtualization products, buying Virtual Iron and plotting a course to deliver a complete software stack including its ripoff of RHEL, called Oracle Enterprise Linux, and its take on the Xen hypervisor, called Oracle VM Server. As soon as Oracle is done eating Sun Microsystems, there will be Solaris and other virtualization technologies to throw in the mix.

Wedding bells?

Circling high above the server virtualization space here at El Reg, it sure looks like Novell and Citrix need each other. They need each other as much as Citrix needed to closely ally itself with Microsoft to put out its Essentials tools for managing both XenServer and Hyper-V hypervisors, and as much as Novell needed to make a pact with Microsoft to distribute $340m worth of SUSE Linux support contracts into Windows shops.

I would guess that it won't be long before we hear of a Novell and Citrix announcement debuting Citrix Essentials for SUSE Linux and that Novell - which still does not have a profitable Linux business and cannot afford to code its own standalone hypervisor - has endorsed the XenServer 5.5 hypervisor as its own standalone product.

Novell could endorse KVM, in theory, but that would only help rival Red Hat and it would still mean that Novell has to do something to create its own SUSE Enterprise Virtualization product. It could just pull an Oracle, of course, and change the logos on Red Hat's virtualization. But there is not much honor in that, either.

Citrix Essentials for SUSE and XenServer it is, then. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Bitcasa bins $10-a-month Infinite storage offer
Firm cites 'low demand' plus 'abusers'
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.