VMware will distribute and support Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server OS and also bundle the Linux variant with software appliances, under an arrangement between virtualization provider VMware and Novell being announced on Wednesday.
Users who want to deploy VMware vSphere virtual machines with Suse Linux can get a free subscription to the Linux OS that includes patches and updates. VMware and solution provider partners will offer customers an option to purchase technical support for Suse Linux to be delivered directly by VMware.
[ Desktop virtualization could save desktop Linux, InfoWorld Editor in Chief Eric Knorr writes. ]
"VMware customers will be getting the updates or patches not only for vSphere but also for Suse Linux Enterprise Server," said Bogomil Balkansky, VMware vice president of product marketing. Users can get a "seamless, unified maintenance and support experience" from a single vendor, he said.
Also, VMware will standardize its virtual appliances, which package an OS and an application with a pre-configured virtual machine into a self-contained unit, on Suse Linux as well. VMware has offered appliances such as vCenter AppSpeed, for managing the performance of virtualized multi-tier applications.
The VMware-Novell arrangement reduces complexity for customers and increases value, said Joe Wagner, Novell senior vice president and general manager for global alliances.
"We're delighted that VMware is endorsing our strategy to be the most portable OS for physical, virtual, and cloud environments," Wagner said.
The deal is a natural fit, said analyst Drue Reeves, of Burton Group.
"I wouldn't say it's earth-shattering, [but] it makes a lot of sense specifically from a Novell perspective in that a lot of customers are migrating off mainframes and midrange platforms," onto Linux, Reeves said They can opt for a virtualized Linux platform, he said.
Novell and VMware, however, must make sure they do not upset partners like IBM, which sells mainframes and Unix, and rival Linux vendors Red Hat and Canonical, who also do business with VMware, Reeves said.
The agreement with Novell, however, is not exclusive, Balkansky said. Although there are no plans now for similar arrangements with other vendors, the proposition is "definitely something that's not out of the question," he said. VMware will support customers who use the company's virtualization technology with other Linux platforms, such as Red Hat or Canonical Ubuntu.
Reeves said he expects VMware will forge similar arrangements with Red Hat and Ubuntu.
Meanwhile, a Microsoft official was critical of the deal in a blog post Wednesday but did sarcastically say the arrangement shows VMware has figured out that virtualization is an OS feature. Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology is part of Windows Server.
VMware, said Patrick O'Rourke, director of communications for the Microsoft Server and Tools Business, was further isolating itself. The deal was a bad one for customers, who get locked into an inflexible offer, he said.
"Microsoft's interop efforts have provided more choice and flexibility for customers, including our work with Novell. We're seeing VMWare go down an alternate path," O'Rourke said.
He also criticized VMware for having no public cloud offering, unlike Microsoft with Windows Azure or Amazon with Elastic Compute Cloud.
"While we're demoing and building capabilities so customers have a common and flexible application and management model across on-premises and cloud computing, they're stitching together virtual appliances to fill the void," he said.
This story was updated on June 9, 2010
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