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SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with vSphere

One of the things that I try to do at VMworld is catch a piece of news or an announcement that really makes me stop and ponder. Today, Novell and VMware announced that an installation of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is now included with each vSphere purchase at the Standard level or higher. Essentials and Essentials Plus are not part of this program. If you have made a vSphere purchase between June 9, 2010, and now, any eligible products are included. The SLES for VMware installations are available now for download from Novell, not from VMware. Registration is required and it is not actively tied to a VMware account.

I had a chance to discuss this with two directors from Novell: Richard Whitehead and Ben Grubin. I was a little skeptical of the announcement. Primarily, this seems to be the start of another peculiar technical relationship. The most peculiar is the Microsoft and Citrix relationship, one that I have always referred to as "co-opetition." This Novell and VMware announcement puts an enterprise-class Linux distribution easily in the hands of today's installation base. My questions for Novell then rolled into some of the more ongoing aspects of this news.

Any time something is free, I stop and think of receiving a free puppy -- free now, but it could lead to a lot of work later. I questioned Novell on the support of the SLES installations that are included with vSphere. The level one and level two support functions of the SLES for VMware installations are provided by VMware. Level three SLES for VMware support does go through Novell directly, but in both scenarios the support is executed for installations that have an active Support and Subscription (SnS).

What is not entirely clear is what customers who have their SnS delivered through a channel partner. Many customers opt to have Hewlett Packard, Dell, and others provide VMware support directly. These arrangements can escalate to VMware, but each channel partner may deliver or transfer the SLES for VMware support differently. The active SnS subscription also entitles the SLES for VMware installation for operating system updates.

While I see this is important news, I'm not entirely sure what impact it will have on the typical virtualization environment running vSphere. My virtualization practice keeps me in the Windows Server space, yet if I needed a Linux distribution; the SLES for VMware option is one that I would consider. It can awkwardly impact any cost allocation or chargeback, but nonetheless no cost translates well.

How does the SLES for VMware news stir any reaction for you and your virtualization practice? Share your comments here.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 09/02/2010 at 12:47 PM


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