VMware/Novell Linux Deal Should Benefit Both, and Customers


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VMware will distribute SUSE Linux Enterprise with its virtual appliance offerings. Both vendors and their customers should gain from the deal, which will make Novell VMware's "go to" partner for Linux.

News Analysis


On 9 June 2010, VMware and Novell announced an OEM agreement that allows VMware to distribute and support the SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system. VMware will standardize its appliances on SUSE Linux. The new product offering should be available in 3Q10.


Novell has much to gain from this partnership, which, among other things, will allow VMware to distribute patches and updates for SUSE guests on VMware ESX, provide first-line support and download VMware appliances configured with SUSE Linux Enterprise server. It will give Novell more competitive opportunities via Novell's “perfect guest” strategy — aimed at deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise VMs on heterogeneous, multiple hypervisor platforms. Novell will also gain access to VMware's large installed base, move closer to SUSE Enterprise Linux in the cloud, and advance its alliance and partnership strategy in the data center. The deal could possibly also open up opportunities for Novell's intelligent workload management strategy and put it in the unique position of cross-fertilizing and growing SUSE Linux into Windows and VMware vSphere environments.

Novell customers will benefit from a number of factors, including:

  • A direct migration route for users wishing to migrate Unix applications onto a virtualized server

  • The use of Novell as a heterogeneous, portable platform (the "perfect guest" strategy) versus pure-play hosted Linux (thus differentiating Novell from fully hosted strategies such as Red Hat/KVM)

  • A single point of support for VMware vSphere and Linux guest updates and fixes

VMware customers will gain these advantages:

  • The addition of 5,000 Linux applications to VMware's portfolio

  • A standard OS for all current VMware virtual appliances, such as vCenter CapacityIQ, vCenter AppSpeed, and vCenter Update Manager

  • The ability to port SUSE Enterprise Linux workloads across clouds.

  • A single point of contact for supporting virtual appliances on vSphere

  • The ability of Red Hat users that want to run on vSphere and contract with Red Hat for support to continue to do so

Enterprises should watch to see how aggressively VMware markets this alliance, especially how willing VMware will be to open its accounts to Novell to upsell SUSE management products and whether Novell's relationship with Microsoft on Hyper-V will be negatively affected. Currently, the ratio of Linux to Windows on VMware is about 20/80, and it remains to be seen what the impact will be on the growth of Linux hosts as hypervisor-integrated VM platforms.


  • All prospective users: Ensure that you have remote, network-based subscription support with Novell for SUSE Linux Enterprise. Look for higher-than-usual discounts and other incentives from Novell and VMware to hasten migrations and Linux guest deployments during this period of uncertainty.

  • Users who have not yet committed, or wish to complement VMware infrastructure support tools and management: Examine alternative options using Novell PlateSpin products.

  • Users who want cross-silo virtualization support (Windows and Linux applications): Consider vSphere as a strategic virtualization platform.

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