If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

Summary: Industry journals, websites and blogs have been humming with rumors about VMware acquiring the SUSE Linux business from Novell. While nothing solid has become public about this possible deal, it does offer an opportunity for interesting speculation.

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Industry journals, websites and blogs have been humming with rumors about VMware acquiring the SUSE Linux business from Novell. While nothing solid has become public about this possible deal, it does offer an opportunity for interesting speculation. Here are some possible ramifications on a partner/competitor basis if VMware does acquire SUSE Linux. In general, it appears that the move towards vendors offering monolithic hardware/software/services environments is clearly returning.

  • CA - VMware and Novell are partners with CA. Little would change if VMware acquires SUSE Linux
  • HP - VMware and Novell are partners with HP. HP works to certify its systems and software with both platforms.  Little would change if VMware acquires SUSE Linux.
  • IBM - VMware and Novell are partners with IBM. IBM works to certify its systems and software with both platforms.  Little would change if VMware acquires SUSE Linux.
  • Microsoft - If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, Microsoft stands to see the most challenges. Microsoft is already competing with VMware with Hyper-V. That being said, VMware was a "safe" coopitition partner with Microsoft because it didn't go after Microsoft foundation operating system and applications business. With the addition of SUSE Linux, VMware's product portfolio would increasingly be competitive with Microsoft.   It is not at all clear how the Microsoft/Novell cross licensing agreements would stand up in this environment. I'd look for the relationship between Microsoft and VMware to become chilly at first and then escalated into a rather frosty relationship.
  • Oracle - Oracle is working hard to promote a unified stack that includes its own version of Xen and Linux on top of both X86 and SPARC platforms. It has just about declared war on many of its hardware and software "partners." So, VMware acquiring SUSE wouldn't change the dynamics of the market in any substantial way.
  • Red Hat - Red hat has begun promoting KVM as a VMware and Xen replacement.  VMware could be expected to start pushing SUSE as a replacement for Red Hat in its major accounts by offering reduced costs for those purchasing a VMware "package."  Red Hat would, in all likelihood, would offer matching prices for similar packages that included Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and KVM. This warfare had begun previously, but is likely to escalate.

Historical ruminations from a computer archeologist

In the 1960s and 1970s, customers faced totally monolithic offerings from hardware suppliers. These offerings included operating systems, database managers, application development tools and applications themselves.

In the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the industry saw a disaggregation of company offerings into offerings from operating system suppliers, database and tools suppliers and application suppliers. Hardware suppliers worked with everyone in order to sell their systems. Customers began to complain about complexity and the inability to keep up with what all of their suppliers were doing. Suppliers had to be partners with just about everyone to do business.

Now we're seeing a re-aggregation and major suppliers are going back to having their own systems, system software, databases, tools and applications. What happens next will depend entirely on how greedy and authoritarian suppliers become.

If the worst case scenario that is possible occurs, I'm expecting to hear cries for interoperability and cross platform migration that will be similar to the cries heard in the 1960s and 1970s.  Are we doomed to repeat this cycle over and over again?

Topics: Software, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Virtualization, VMware

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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16 comments
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  • What will Novell do without a Linux OS?

    Where will Novell stand without a Linux OS? As their core product Netware went out of fashion they responded by basically switching to a respected up-and-comer, Linux. If they got rid of Linux, how would that affect their overall product offerings?
    Rick_R
    • without Suse

      Novell has already put an end of life, though a long one, on NetWare, so if they sell off Suse you've got a network OS company without a network OS. I can't see any future for them other than to sell the rest of their properties. A real shame. I've been doing Novell networks since Advanced NetWare 286. They've always made a solid NOS and given great support, and their products like eDirectory are without match.
      boomchuck1
      • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

        @boomchuck1 Novell has other lines of business that include a directory service, single sign on based upon that directory service, security software based upon that directory service, and a whole line of software for orchestration and movement of virtual machines.
        dkusnetzky
  • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

    VMWare will dissolve SUSE and the world will be rid of one more linux distro.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Troll feeding in session.

      @Loverock Davidson, you've obviously never heard of openSUSE or the GPL. The polite name for that brown stuff you're slinging and/or smoking is FUD; it's otherwise known as aged bovine offal. Here's a ha'penny; go buy a clue.
      Jeff Dickey
    • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

      @Loverock Davidson I don't think that's a likely outcome at all. As @Jeff Dickey pointed out, OpenSUSE will have a life of its own. If VMware acquires SUSE Linux Enterrprise Servier (SLES) from Novell, it is because they see value in having their own enterprise class operating system to complete with Microsoft, Red Hat and others on an even playing field.

      Dan K
      dkusnetzky
    • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

      @Loverock Davidson

      Too bad we cannot dissolve Loverock Davidson and the world would be rid of one more spammer wasting our time.
      jorjitop
  • Yes, we are doomed to repeat the cycle over and over....

    As history has shown us, first there was Unix.
    Then there was a plethora of Unixs: ATT System V, Xenix, System 6, BSD, ...etc.
    Then there was Linux.
    Then there was a plethora of Linuxs: Red Hat, Suse, Debian, ...etc.
    Fast forward to 2020...
    Then there was ???nix..
    Fast forward to 2030...
    Then there was a plethora of ???nixs: ***nix, @@@nix, ?*@nix, ...etc.
    Fast forward to circa 2300 in a meeting to discuss which OS the computer on the Enterprise will run:
    Scotty: And what wrong with just continuing to run Windows 169??? We've certainly got plenty o' space... I mean, we've got 27-yottabytes of memory just for the StartShip version of Office... what do you think those great bit tubes are on the back o' the ship laddy?
    Spock: Licensing costs. Logically, one cannot expect the entire GNP of the Local Cluster to be *reasonable* for such a product. We should therefore be running Unix System MCXXXII.
    Scotty: But think of the patches! It will fill 27 subspace channels just to keep it up to date on a daily basis.
    Spock: Considering the alternative of getting 72 trillion virus updates per second I would say we are slightly ahead with Unix. Besides, Unix is free, so long as you don't consider the 237 [expendable] Ensigns required to maintain it.
    Scotty: Well, ok then. Does it come with up-to-date transporter matter-antimatter reactor drivers?
    Spock: Yes, beta versions that might have to be tweaked from the Klingon code they were ported from. But they should work. In the meantime, I'll just use the shuttle craft.
    .... and so on....
    ....and so it goes....
    storagelunatic
  • Novell is toast. And yet ...

    ... they have a pretty fat wallet. Wonder what they'll buy next?
    Gaius_Maximus
  • Question is: Who Owns Unix?

    Last I remember, it was decided once and for all that Novell owns *nux.

    So question is -- who ends up with the licenses?
    jabailo1
  • Platform Agnostic

    Novell makes products that run on multiple platforms: Identity Manager, ZENWorks Configuration Manager, Access Manger and a whole host of others run on Linux and Windows, eDirectory and Active Directory. Novell's heterogeneous product offerings were lost on its attachment to NetWare then SUSE. Without an OS to sell and support, Novell is free to sell and run with equally facility on Microsoft, RedHat, VMWare, Oracle, IBM etc. platforms.
    stjeanm@...
  • In Memoriam: Open Systems

    The movement you are referring to was the movement towards Open Systems. Oracle , who was the first vendor that could run on "anything that came with a plug", was actually one of the big drivers of this trend.

    How things change: with the acquisition of Sun HW and applications like "Apps/psft /jde someday to be fusion" Oracle now has a full stack in house and actually in some case offers only support if that full stack (including their own hypervisor) is used.
    I would expect to see others to follow suit like VMware - as you describe - but maybe also HP/SAP (now including Sybase) and off course IBM, who started some years ago by shrinkwrapping everything together with services. Interesting is also the to some extent equally monolithic cloud/force/salesforce stack. The only light in this monolithic darkness maybe LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP-Perl-Python) and vendors that continue to offer cross platform portability and management (as cross platform management supports a divide and conquer strategy for end users).

    LeanITmanager
    petri@...
  • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

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    jeffmgf1
  • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

    who started some years ago by shrinkwrapping everything together with services. <a href="http://www.treppenliften.com">Treppenliften</a>Interesting is also the to some extent equally monolithic cloud/force/salesforce stack. The only light in this monolithic
    zalim24
    • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

      @zalim24 I have in mind the example of grey-goods photographic suppliers who ship American items to customers elsewhere in the world. Card details and customer details are whizzing around the globe regardless of national boundaries.<br>A much more significant hurdle to cloud adoption in Europe is that Europeans are totally unconvinced and think that American enthusiasm for cloud is fashion and not justified. <a href="http://www.kralarabaoyunlari.com/barbie-oyunlari/">barbie oyunlari</a>
      KralLord
  • RE: If VMware acquires SUSE Linux, then what?

    I've been doing Novell networks since Advanced NetWare 286. They've always made a solid NOS and given great support, and their products like eDirectory are without match. http://jasasoftware.com/jasa-maintenance-komputer.php
    gamestrial