WSJ: VMware to acquire Novell’s SUSE Linux division
Prior to VMworld, there had been rumors of a possible VMware-Novell deal in the works. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that VMware is indeed in talks to acquire Novell’s SUSE Linux division, while remaining assets might be acquired by Attachmate and perhaps others.
There won’t be any confirmation until a deal is signed, but it does appears very likely that VMware will be acquiring the SUSE Linux Enterprise Operating System from Novell. Why would VMware make such a move and what does it mean?
SUSE is a major Enterprise Linux Distribution. SearchDataCenter.com reported in April that SUSE Linux had captured 30% of the Enterprise Linux market share, supporting large Oracle and SAP deployments, while also supporting more applications than Red Hat.
Chris Wolf at Gartner shares several good observations about this move, including that VMware’s efforts with JeOS (Just Enough OS) were falling short as companies wanted a more established linux distro like Red Hat or SUSE. Having a major Linux distribution also enables VMware to gain a measure of independence from Microsoft and others. In other words this is really a strategic move for VMware — in the long run the OS may become less relevant but over the next few years this gives VMware it’s own OS (which Microsoft, Oracle both have) which can support many initiatives ranging from large Oracle and SAP deployments on SUSE to other cloud-oriented plays.
On a side note, the question has been asked in the past if VMware would be the next Novell — meaning that eventually Microsoft would surpass VMware and make them irrelevant. After VMworld 2010 I suspect that a lot fewer people are still asking this question. Two quick points here. First, in the long run all hypervisors will move towards parity — but there are still major differences today. Second, in the long run what becomes more important than the hypervisor itself, are API’s, the automation and the cloud computing ecosystem that is built around the hypervisor. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that VMware isn’t close to becoming the “next Novell” anytime soon — and to add a bit of irony to that, VMware appears to be about to purchase the largest piece of Novell ( a piece that has little to do with Novell’s original platform, NetWare).
SUSE Linux is already available free to qualifying VMware customers due to a previously announced partnership. For more details of VMware’s SUSE Linux offering, visit VMware’s SUSE Linux page.