Novell: Putting the FOSS in Fossa

Novell: Putting the FOSS in Fossa

Summary: Chief technology officer Jeff Jaffe claims Novell is serious as ever about open source, but that it also wants to promote the idea of mixed-source environments: the reality for most businesses


...we are an open-source company. I think Ron [chief executive Ron Hovsepian] brings terrific customer perspective, and under his leaderhsip we have made the mixed-source message much more explicit.

Mixed source as a technology message sounds a little confusing, but as a customer message it's reality. Customers have open source, they have proprietary, and they want them to work together and no one is helping. I think we have been pretty consistent about the mixed-source theme and I don't think our long-term vision is any different. Even embedded in the name "Fossa" is open source.

I also think that for the past year-and-a-half we have been clear that our strategy is to manage resources. The way we manage resources is in two domains. One is on a single system via enterprise Linux, and the other way is across systems via systems management products.

But we have never answered the question: what greater goal are you achieving by managing resources? And that is what we are trying to do today. Our Fossa project answers that question because there is an overarching goal that chief information officers want in terms of agility and, by focusing on that like no other company in the world, we think we can address that.

Could you describe how your virtualisation products fit together and whether there are in gaps in the offerings you have at the moment, which you feel you might need to plug through internal development or acquisition?
With our primary focus on interoperability, our objective is to be a player with everybody. So we work with VMware, we get Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) working as a wonderful guest under VMware. We work bilaterally with Microsoft, we get Windows on SLES, and SLES on Windows. We are very interoperable from that perspective.

For any key piece of technology, customers don't want vendor lock-in, they want openness, preferably open source

On the other hand you do want to choose at least one technology as the preferred technology and in this particular case what makes most sense for us, as we think it makes the most sense for customers, is to select the open-source technology. For any key piece of technology, customers don't want vendor lock-in, they want openness, preferably open source.

We have been very big supporters of Xen and that will probably be our preferred strategy for the future. Supporting Xen has many different aspects to it: we are big participants in the Xen community, we were the first to embed Xen in Linux with SLES 10. When it comes to making Xen industrial strength, then we probably have the lead on any of the Xen community, simply because with OEX 2, with Netware running on SLES using Xen, we have many more real workloads, real customers that are supporting that today.

The other piece is the management piece, and we saw a gap that we filled with Platespin.

So do you think that you now have all the virtualisation products your customers require?
I wouldn't go that far. I think there are some important areas for investment. I think to make virtualisation really take off, there is a need for better tools. I think one of the other mega-trends that is going to drive virtualisation into enterprises, even more so than today, is multicore. As you get more and more powerful computers, you will begin to outstrip the need of the applications, and you have more and more wasted capacity unless you utilise it properly.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

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Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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