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Novell Tries to Beat Red Hat with Red Hat's Own Tech

Novell Spacewalks RHEL Customers

  • March 3, 2011
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Novell is using open source technology from rival Linux server vendor Red Hat to help Red Hat users migrate to SUSE Linux.
Sean Michael Kerner

Novell is using open source technology from the Spacewalk project that rival Linux vendor Red Hat started, in order to help Red Hat users migrate to SUSE Linux.

The new SUSE Manager is a Linux systems management solution that will enable administrators to manage and update SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) installations. SUSE Manager replaces the Zenworks Linux Management solution that Novell has had in the market since 2004, which evolved from the Ximian Red Carpet Linux management product suite.

"Zenworks Linux Management is going out of support in March of 2012, the SUSE Manager has comparable features with a number of areas with broader and greater functionality," Doug Jarvis, product marketing manager, Linux Enterprise at Novell told InternetNews.com.

Jarvis noted that SUSE Manager has systems monitoring capabilities which Zenworks Linux Management did not have. He added that with SUSE Manager it is easier to manage Linux workloads on IBM System Z and it also has the ability to manage SLES based appliances. Virtualization is also a key area of differentiation for SUSE Manager, in contrast with the older Zenworks Linux Management product.

"SUSE Manager natively interfaces with Xen and KVM to provision new virtual instances, which is something that Zenworks couldn't do," Jarvis said. "SUSE Manager can also manage the underlying Xen or KVM virtual host."

The other big shift is the fact that SUSE Manager is based on the open source Spacewalk project that rival Red Hat started in 2008. Spacewalk was started by Red Hat to be an open source systems management project. Spacewalk code also powers the Red Hat Network Satellite systems management system.

The fact that Red Hat started the Spacewalk project isn't seen as being a negative or positive issue for Novell. Novell is also contributing back to the Spacewalk project, which is licensed under the GPLv2 open source license.

"We want to help bring standardization to systems management for Linux," Jarvis said. "Our participation in the Spacewalk project also helps to propel management of Linux forward by having both of the big heavy hitters in Linux taking part in the project."

Jarvis noted that with the Spacewalk base, SUSE Manager can manage both SLES and RHEL. Currently the Spacewalk project is at the Spacewalk 1.2 release, which is why SUSE Manager's initial release will also be tagged as version 1.2.

"One of the things that our engineering team noticed is that Spacewalk is difficult to get up and running, so we've made it easier to get up and running a SLES environment," Jarvis said. "The major thing that we're adding is support."

SUSE Manager 1.2 is being made available as an on-premise solution, though Jarvis noted that there has been some discussion at Novell around extending it into a managed service offering at some future point. The other area that Novell may explore in the future with SUSE Manager is further extensions to be interoperable in heterogeneous Linux/Windows environments. Novell has a multi-year partnership with Microsoft around interoperability.

Moving forward, Jarvis noted that SUSE Manager will be updated as the various moving pieces in Spacewalk, RHEL and SLES require.

"In order to ensure compatibility around all 3 systems (Spacewalk, RHEL, SLES), when we view the need to have a major upgrade, we will have a major upgrade," Jarvis said. "Initially we plan to do some smaller releases of additional functionality on an as needed basis."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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