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The Times They Are a-Changin’

The value the OS has to IT operations has been waning over time

by Barry Crist, Likewise CEO - You could have easily missed this one.  VMware and Novell announced they are expanding their strategic partnership.

VMware and Novell Expand Strategic Partnership to Deliver and Support SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware vSphere Environments

There is a much bigger story here on two fronts.  The first is that while the language in the release carefully avoids the word “free,” this is in fact how VMware’s vSphere customers will view this announcement.  vSphere licensees are now also entitled to a license of SUSE Enterprise Server (SLES)–once the crown jewel of the SUSE business.  For free.  And software patches and updates.  For free.  I’m not going to make any prognostications about how this may or may not change the landscape, but I’m pretty sure that large VMware shops are going to at least take a pretty hard look at SUSE.

More details on the “free” part of this announcement on VMware’s site:  SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware

The second story playing out in front of us I believe is a larger one.  The value the OS has to IT operations has been waning over time.  Of course this has almost always been true on the business side of the shop–they care much more about applications for example and not very much about whether servers run Linux or Windows or Solaris.  But IT operations teams cared about operating systems because it was their foundation on top of which they built everything.  The foundation is changing. It isn’t the operating system–it is becoming the virtualization layer.  I believe the VMware / Novell announcement is another small step in the ongoing movement towards the complete commoditization of the operating system.

This announcement is also very relevant to our space.  As I’ve previously blogged, customers are increasingly looking for common IT services across the hypervisor, guest operating systems (Windows and Linux) and various other management and application elements.  Authentication is as often as not one of the first things that organizations want to unify across these layers and almost always this involves a mix of different operating environments.

Both VMware and Novell are Likewise partners and both are commercial licensees of various pieces of Likewise technology.  Novell, both through their partnership with Microsoft and through their licensing of Likewise Enterprise for SUSE Enterprise Desktop, has been aggressive in differentiating around Linux/Windows interoperability.  As we’ve previously announced, VMware licenses our authentication technology know as LWIS (Likewise Identity Services) which, when it ships shortly in vSphere, gives VMware customers the ability to manage privileged user access via Active Directory.  Add in Likewise and SUSE and you have common authentication in mixed Windows environments across the hypervisor, SUSE and Windows guest OS instances, and various other applications.  Very cool.


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Glenn Rossman has more than 25 years communications experience working at IBM and Hewlett-Packard, along with startup StorageApps, plus agencies Hill & Knowlton and G&A Communications. His experience includes media relations, industry and financial analyst relations, executive communications, intranet and employee communications, as well as producing sales collateral. In technology, his career includes work in channel partner communications, data storage technologies, server computers, software, PC and UNIX computers, along with specific industry initiatives such as manufacturing, medical, and finance. Before his latest stint in technology, Glenn did business-to-business public relations on behalf of the DuPont Company for its specialty polymers products and with the largest steel companies in North America in an initiative focused on automakers.