Fellow ZDNet blogger Dan Kusnetzsky this morning addresses the organizational challenges of Novell integrating virtualization ISV PlateSpin into its culture. While I agree any acquisition of any type has organizational challenges, I think Novell has already shown it can take a company with a radically different corporate culture, SuSE, and successfully incorporate it into its own. With the PlateSpin acquisition however, there are a number of strategic (and) political decisions that need to be made in order to best realize the benefits of the company's acquisition.
For those not familiar with PlateSpin, they produce two main software products, PowerRecon and PowerConvert. PowerRecon is a virtualization managment suite which introduces the familiar mainframe-style concept of chargeback management into virtualization, a framework that VMWare ESX Server and Xen-based solutions both lack. It provides powerful reporting functions about utilization of virtualized resources, providing a "dashboard" of sorts to track the growth of your entire virtualized environment. Its other product, PowerConvert, competes with VMWare's Converter product which performs Physical-to-Virtual machine migration but has more powerful features -- live migration of remote physical servers to VMWare and Xen-based virtual machines, other physical machines, and virtual-to-physical migration, which they term as "anywhere to anywhere" migration. PowerConvert can perform a machine migration without having to take a system offline or having to reboot it, as well as advanced replication features and synchonization functionality that permit better flexibility of workload transfers.
All of this technology Novell is acquiring with Platespin positions them to compete strongly in the virtualization management tools space. But is it enough to make Novell a strong virtualization vendor in and of itself to compete with VMWare directly? Certainly, if we look at Novell has done with ZENWorks, their flagship systems management product suite for Linux and Windows, they have assumed a multi-vendor support strategy, supporting management of their own native Linux distribution, SuSE, as well as the industry leader, Red Hat, Microsoft Windows, and various types of mobile devices. I fully expect Novell to continue this stance with the PlateSpin technology going forward, greatly enhancing their support for Novell's Xen solution (as well as others, such as Citrix XenServer and Virtual Iron) as well as for continued support of the industry leader in that space, VMWare.
With ZEN's framework, PowerRecon and PowerConvert, Novell has the basis for not only providing a virtualization platform that rivals VMWare Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3), but effectively also one that will allow an enterprise to manage all of their major virtualization platforms under one roof, preventing their virtual infrastructure from becoming siloed -- which without a good multi-vendor management framework, enterprises are currently at risk of doing, if they start embracing more than one type of virtualization technology on x86.
Certainly, with Novell's Microsoft aliiance, I am sure we can expect better management and "anywhere to anywhere" tools for Hyper-V virtual machines, perhaps something even ready for Hyper-V's official launch sometime during late summer. Optimally I'd also like to see the Platespin technology extended to container-based virtualization management, reporting and migration, such as on Solaris , Virtuozzo, HPUX nPars, and AIX Microcontainers. And while they're at it, Linux VMs on the zSeries too.
Are you currently a ZEN and PlateSpin customer? How do you interpret the PlateSpin acquistion and does it affect your enterprise's virtualization landscape? Talk back and let me know.
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