The news on June 9th of VMware and Novell’s partnership probably surprised some people. However, in many ways, this makes sense. I had blogged two and a half years ago about VMware’s vulnerability that 80+% of guest operating systems hosted on its hypervisor are Windows servers. With Microsoft’s push of Hyper-v, the inevitable will happen. At 80+% Windows guests running on VMware, the hypervisor has effectively been filling a hole in the Windows eco-system. Microsoft is now aggressively working to fill that hole themselves with Hyper-V.
But fortunately VMware is doing the right things by going after the cloud, as trying to stick to the old path will result in a slow and painful death. Freeing itself from any dependencies on the Windows franchise and moving to be the premier private and internal cloud services vendor is the right thing for VMware. So, adopting SLES as the operating system layer and the core libraries for their appliances allows them to do just that. Some may wonder “why not RedHat?” RedHat is out to compete with VMware for the same thing as evidenced by RedHat’s launch of RedHat Enterprise Virtualization last November. Novell decided not to compete at the hypervisor layer – a decision they took back in August 2008 when Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware all decided to offer their hypervisors for free but rather charging for the management of them.
The more interesting speculation surrounds the possibility of an acquisition of Novell by VMware (as Novell has recently gone up for sale – spurred by the Eliott offer). Novell has a great deal of intellectual property in the area of identity management and coupled with its recent drive towards identity enabled and policy driven intelligent workload management, this is something that is of great value to building out enterprise class clouds. Novell also has desktop management technology that can enhance the VMware View product portfolio. And Novell’s work to move to open source web based collaboration solutions, such as Novell Pulse, can also be leveraged as a packaged cloud service.
Another twist in this story is the Microsoft-Novell Linux deal. Interestingly enough, a VMware/Novell pact or possible acquisition may actually help Microsoft from the perspective of SLES based appliances – easier to migrate between VMware and Hyper-V. While interoperability at this level is a boon for customers, history has shown the alignments – in the long run – will end up with majorities being aligned to single vendor solution stacks, i.e. Windows on Hyper-V and SLES on VMware.
Let me know what you think!