I enjoyed a lovely conversation with an old acquaintance, Kerry Kim of Novell. We had spoken many times when he was with Red Hat and it was nice to chat for a while. The topic of our conversation was Novell's overall strategy for virtualization technology. As with Red Hat, Novell has a comprehensive view of virtualization that will require me to take time to understand completely. It was, on the other hand, pretty clear that Novell believes that virtualization is a fantastic tool to allow organizations to abstract functions away from the underlying hardware platform to enhance scalability, reliability, availability and to create a single management domain out of many separate servers or blades.
This last point is Novell's key focus.
Novell thinks that virtualization is a useful tool but, should not be the single focus of an organization's IT department. A more important focus, in Novell's view, is creating a management environment that allows organizations to select the best platform for a given task and know that platform will fit into the overall management framework. Virtualization is just a tool that enhances that environment.
Novell has integrated Xen into its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10. It believes it is the first major distribution to do this. While this addition allows SLES 10 to support multiple encapsulated Linux images, Novell's more proud of the fact that SLES 10 is well integrated into Novell's security and management frameworks. This integration, Novell points out, allows SLES to be part of a heterogeneous environment that includes Windows, Unix and Linux.
I tend to agree with their assessment that to be completely useful to organizations, open source software in general, and Linux in specific, must integrate into their IT infrastructure in an easy-to-manage, secure and reliable way. I'll try to go more deeply into Novell's strategy for access virtualization, clustering, virtual processing and virtual storage.