Novell’s strategy: we’ll bet on multiple hypervisors adoption

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So far, the Novell strategy about virtualization has never been too clear.
The company offers its own version of Xen since October 2005, made more appealing thanks to a multi-year agreement with Microsoft to support Windows guest OSes and interoperate with Hyper-V.
It has a feature-rich orchestration framework, ZENworks, which supports multiple hypervisors but that is almost unknown in the virtualization community.
In February 2008 it acquired the Canadian startup PlateSpin, which now enriches the Novell portfolio with a P2V migration, disaster recover and capacity planning tools.
It also plans to release additional products for performance monitoring and configuration management.

Despite that, it’s still unclear where Novell will be in the virtualization market within the next few years.
One of the PlateSpin products, Forge, still uses VMware ESX rather than SUSE Linux with Xen to host the P2V’ed virtual machines for disaster recovery.
The stand-alone Xen platform that was announced in March 2008 never came out.
A lot of former PlateSpin executives left the company, the development of virtualization products has been moved to India, and just a couple of weeks ago Novell definitively phased out the subsidiary website (the brand still leaves in the products’ names).


So, where the company is going from here? In those companies where customers adopt multiple hypervisors is the answer.
Or at least this is the answer that Novell’s President and CEO gave during the last earnings call.

Answering to a question about changes in the go-to-market strategy and opportunities for PlateSpin products, Ron Hovsepian said:

…Yeah, some of the packaging was on the planning tool, in particular, and from that perspective, some of that was getting bundled into the market, as you appropriately put it. The good news is we were able to get Dell’s professional services organization to standardize on our tool and begin to use our capacity planning tool for literally thousands of assessments, virtualization assessments that they do.

In terms of the PlateSpin migrate product, you are also correct — some components to that have been bundled inside of other packaging routines. The real key for us in that market is the multiple hypervisors showing up at the customer sites, or the multiple virtualization platforms is really where that part of the product was designed for. And what the team has done is we’ve improved some of our cycle times and focused on improving where we can go with that product and some of the bundling of how we package those pieces up, so I think as we go into next year, calendar next year, I do expect as we hit those releases that that will aid in our ability to sell more of that product.

Yeah, we are definitely seeing more penetration by multiple vendors. Obviously Microsoft being the other big one, you know, VMware has got the lead position and again, our desire is to work with all the hypervisors out there, all the virtual platforms out there. And Microsoft definitely is having a — playing a role in the market, obviously VMware continues to play a role. And Zen continues to play a role in certain segments within the marketplace, so we see those pieces out there. So we are starting to see them show up in some of the larger shops for the customer and starting to see some of that positioning that we want to happen occur now in the market. So it’s still early, in my opinion — we were probably a little early with that product set…