Novell and the Cloud: Taking on the Goliaths

Novell aims to tackle big competitors with its cloud-computing offerings.

Editor in Chief Bruce Hoard recently had the opportunity to interview Benjamin Grubin, who manages data center solutions for Novell. The two talked about what it's like to compete against the big vendors, and how Novell is out to gain a bigger piece of the virtualization pie.

VR: How does it feel to be a David in a world of virtualization Goliaths?
Grubin: Clearly this is not a position Novell is unfamiliar with, and we view it both as a challenge and as a way to demonstrate the thought leadership and the market leadership we believe we have to offer. We have some of the smartest people under the sun working here and creating amazing products. I think one of the things that we need to do better is show the market that we may not be the Goliath, but that we have the agility and the freedom to do some very, very interesting things and really go out on the edge-particularly in relation to cloud computing, which is where we think the market is going today.

VR: Talk to me about the virtualization products that you're most proud of, and that you think are really interesting.
Grubin: I know you've looked at SuSE Linux Enterprise Server before, and the Xen offering that comes with it. Things like the PlateSpin acquisition have brought a lot to the table from a virtualization perspective. We think that SuSE Linux Enterprise Server is such a phenomenal platform to build a cloud computing offering on, such a big virtual infrastructure offering, that it's simply a matter of getting out there and demonstrating some of the value we've got. Previously, we had the platform, but we didn't necessarily have the management layers we wanted to have. Through the PlateSpin acquisition and building out both products-like PlateSpin Orchestrate and some of the upcoming products in terms of our cloud management offering-we're really going to have the ability to leverage the industrial-strength virtualization platform we have that's proven and ready to work across a multitude of other platforms.

 "One of the things that we need to do better is show the market that we may not be the Goliath, but that we have the agility and the freedom to do some very, very interesting things and really go out on the edge."

Benjamin Grubin,
Solution Manager, Novell

VR: How competitive do you feel against Red Hat, and how do you sell against them?
Grubin: We believe we have a lot of opportunity to grow share against Red Hat in the next 12 to 18 months. Part of that is our offering on the mainframe, SuSE Linux on System Z. I think we have 85 percent market share, and that's a huge market. I think it's going to grow because mainframes are all of a sudden this great new central processing capability that's going to power infrastructure clouds. SuSE Linux on System Z is an incredible capability, and the scalability that it brings to the table is something that can't be dismissed.

VR: Is Novell working on a new open source project based on Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)?
Grubin: Novell is committed to a heterogeneous, multiplatform hypervisor and guest OS approach that gives our customers maximum choice, flexibility and value.

Novell has always taken pride in delivering the highest-performance Linux solution, and some Novell developers are contributing to an open source project that aims to deliver on this vision. The Alacrity/VM project is in its early stages. It's focused on improving virtual guest performance-particularly I/O performance-via enhancements that sit on top of KVM. This fits in well with our strategy of offering the broadest range of hypervisor support without any compromise on performance.

About the Author

Bruce Hoard is the new editor of Virtualization Review. Prior to taking this post, he was founding editor of Network World and spent 20 years as a freelance writer and editor in the IT industry.

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