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SUSE Linux hitches ride on enemy hypervisor

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VMworld Strange bedfellows VMware and Novell have officially released SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware, a version of Novell's open source OS that piggybacks on every copy of VMware's vSphere hypervisor.

In June, VMware and Novell told the world they had agreed to an OEM deal that would see VMware distribute SUSE Linux with vSphere, and the combined product is now available to all. If you purchase a vSphere license and subscription, you also receive a subscription for patches and updates to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server at no additional cost.

Speaking with The Reg this afternoon at VMware's annual VMworld conference in San Francisco, California, the company also said that free SUSE subscription and updates are available to anyone who purchased vSphere since the OEM pact was announced on June 9.

Naturally, you also have the option of purchasing support for the OS. Level one and level two support is provided by VMware, and if you escalate to level three, you're tossed over to Novell. You pay VMware for your support contract and Novell gets an unspecified cut. "It's [VMware's] product," said Novell director of intelligent workload management Richard Whitehead. "They've OEMed from us."

That said, when you activate the OS, you do so through Novell. And the means they get the chance to sweet-talk you. "As people activate, that's an opportunity for us to engage with them and potentially sell complimentary solutions," said data center solutions marketing manager Benjamin Grubin.

Of course, Novell isn't just a VMware partner. It's also a VMware competitor, offering Xen and KVM open source hypervisors through its SUSE distro. The company's VMware OEM deal echoes its famous pact with Microsoft, which sees Redmond distribute coupons for SUSE maintenance and support to outfits that wish to run both Windows and Linux. Microsoft says that as of June, it had 475 customers who've chosen to work with both outfits. ®

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