Mandriva virtualises enterprise server

Corporate Server 4.0 is the first to include virtualisation from VMware, Xen and OpenVZ in the standard version
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Mandriva, formerly MandrakeSoft, has released Corporate Server 4.0, its latest bid to move beyond its roots as an end-user-oriented Linux distribution to challenge Red Hat and Novell in the market for business servers.

Among other innovations, the distribution is the first to offer three of the most prominent virtualisation technologies — VMware, Xen and OpenVZ — in its standard version, according to Mandriva.

Corporate Server 4.0, released last week, is easier to customise than previous versions, Mandriva said, using a browser-based installation assistant called FIBRIC to quickly set up specialised servers such as mail, file/print and directory servers.

Corporate Server 4 works on a wide range of servers and supports enterprise software such as Oracle, Websphere, DB2 and Arkeia, the company said. Developers have optimised the server to easily connect to widely used directory servers such as Active Directory and LDAP.

The inclusion of Xen, OpenVZ and VMware gives users the ability to mix and match different virtualisation approaches, each with their own benefits. Mandriva's implementation of Xen, based on an open source project, supports the hardware-based virtualisation built into newer Intel and AMD chips. "Mandriva believes that no single (virtualisation technology) covers all the needs of our clients," the company stated.

Mandriva integrated OpenVZ into its kernel as part of a deal with OpenVZ maker SWsoft announced in May.

The distribution uses the 2.6.12 Linux kernel, and includes MySQL 5.0, PostgreSQL 8.1, Apache 2.2 and Samba 3.0.22. It includes the newest version of Mandriva Pulse, a provisioning ad configuration management tool that can manage both Linux and Windows systems. It is fully compliant with the Linux Standard Base, meaning it's interoperable with other LSB-compliant operating systems.

Hardware support includes dual-core chips such as Intel's 5100 series and Xeon 5063, the latest generation of Serial Attached SCSI, booting over SAN on HP machines, blade servers and new RICOH and Xerox network printers.

Mandriva will give enterprises support for this distribution for five years, and is also selling annual support deals.

The company is also making progress on its end-user-oriented version, Mandriva Linux 2007, which hit an RC1 release earlier this month. The final version was planned for 15 September, but releases are running a few days behind schedule.

Mandriva has landed significant enterprise accounts in France, and in 2005 acquired Brazilian distributor Conectiva in a bid to expand into Latin America. Among Conectiva's accounts are HSBC, IBM, HP, Siemens and the Brazilian Army, Navy and Air Force.

This year Mandriva announced a deal to distribute HP compters pre-loaded with its software in 37 Latin American countries. The company also acquired Europe's largest Linux support and services company, Edge-IT, in 2004.

The company has continued to struggle financially, however, and laid off co-founder Gael Duval in March of this year following a poor quarter. Besides competition from the likes of Red Hat and Novell's Suse Linux, Mandriva faces increasing competition at the end-user level from distributions such as Ubuntu.

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