Citrix and Novell doing the VM certification dance

If all industry standard system operating systems are certified with all virtual machine products, will finger pointing be a thing of the past?
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor on

The virtual machine market for industry standard systems includes some big players.  It includes suppliers of system software, such as Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell/SUSE, and suppliers focused more on the development of virtualization technology and related management and security tools, such as VMware and Citrix. Recently, Citrix and Novell announced that they were going to dance more closely together. Now Novell/SUSE is dancing with Citrix, Microsoft, VMware, the Xen community and the KVM community.

Here's what Citrix and Novell had to say

Citrix Systems, Inc. and Novell, Inc. today announced a collaboration that expands choice for customers through increased virtualization interoperability and new assessment tools to help pinpoint the economically most advantageous approach to virtualization. Through this new partnership, Novell has certified SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise Server as a "Perfect Guest" running on Citrix(R) XenServer(R) and both companies will provide joint technical support to customers. As a result of this agreement, the more than 4,500 enterprise applications certified as Novell Ready for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are now Citrix Ready(R) community-verified when running in a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server guest virtual machine on XenServer.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the only Linux operating system that has been optimized to be the perfect guest on all major hypervisors, with outstanding performance when running on XenServer. Now customers and cloud providers gain the added value of the free XenServer as an enterprise-class virtualization platform for Linux and Windows environments, providing them with an expanded set of technologies and processes to run and manage heterogeneous data centers.

In addition, Citrix will participate in the PlateSpin(R) Recon for Assessment Program, which enables Citrix Solution Advisors (CSA) channel partners and the Citrix internal services organization to begin offering customers virtualization, server consolidation and cloud readiness assessments using the Novell(R) toolset. PlateSpin Recon from Novell is a data center workload profiling, analysis and planning tool that combines consolidation planning with capacity management to give customers an ongoing view of their physical and virtual infrastructure. PlateSpin Recon takes the guesswork out of complex server consolidation and capacity planning initiatives and helps accelerate the move to virtualization.

The collaboration between Citrix and Novell is strongly supported by leading technology vendors across the IT community, such as HP: "Customers require a seamless transition between virtual and physical environments to lower their risk of system downtime," said Scott Farrand, vice president, Infrastructure Software and Blades, HP. "This new capability from Citrix and Novell, when combined with industry-standard HP ProLiant server platforms, will allow organizations to simplify virtualization management while extending the value of their hardware."

Snapshot analysis

A virtualized environment could easily contain Windows, UNIX and many different Linux distributions all neatly encapsulated into virtual machines. It could also include access, application, network, and storage virtualization as well. The overall environment could contain VMware, XenServer or Xen, Hyper-V, or KVM as well. It could also contain industry standard systems from Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and several others. If one considers all of the possible interesting permutations and combinations, it is clear that an organization could easily find itself trying to support a dizzying array of configurations. This could most certainly lead to support issues and dynamic games of finger-pointing (those who point last, point best).

Various suppliers of virtual machine technology, including Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, have seen the issue and are trying in their own lovable ways to use this as a way to grab the marketing high ground. "We support you better than those others," is their cry.

How are they doing this? By developing joint testing and support programs. Microsoft has been working closely with Novell and recently Red Hat. VMware has been working with Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell. Citrix has been working with Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell. This mesh of support agreements, while very confusing, could actually help an IT organization find the solution to difficult compatibility issues because all of the major virtual machine player are working with all of the major operating system suppliers. In the end, the customer wins.

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