Novell PlateSpinNovell is starting to connect the dots between SUSE Linux and two recent product acquisitions: PlateSpin and Managed Objects. The VAR Guy isn’t suggesting Novell will dominate tomorrow’s data centers. But during an April 7 seminar in New York, Novell finally delivered a coherent server consolidation strategy for partners, independent software vendors and customers. Here’s the scoop.

The Data Center Evolution Tour -- hosted by Novell but co-sponsored by Microsoft, Intel and Hewlett-Packard -- kicked off with several key data points:
  • Novell attracted 7,000 new customers last year;
  • legacy products like GroupWise and NetWare now represent less than 25 percent of Novell’s annual revenue; and
  • enterprises that run SAP on Linux choose Novell’s SUSE Linux for 70 percent of deployments.

More Than SUSE?

Clap, clap. Interesting stuff. But for Novell to succeed, it needs to build an ecosystem of solutions around SUSE Linux. That's where PlateSpin and Business Service Management (the re-branded Managed Objects tools) enter the picture.

PlateSpin helps VARs and IT departments to mange and accelerate server consolidation projects. Managed Objects helps partners and customers to measure and maintain service level agreements, and to improve system reliability by simplifying such tasks as root cause analysis.

Novell demonstrated two PlateSpin tools during the event:
  • PlateSpin Recon is an analysis tool that checks hardware, memory and disk subsystems to assist server consolidation and virtualization projects.
  • PlateSpin Migrate assists with the actual migration process. Plus, it’s bi-directional. Customers and partners can use PlateSpin to transition applications from physical servers to virtual servers and vice versa.

Seeing the Light

As The VAR Guy watched the PlateSpin demonstrations, Novell’s strategy finally became clear. First, get customers addicted to PlateSpin as a key tool for server consolidation and virtualization efforts that cut data center costs. Second, make sure SUSE Linux is a potential destination platform for the consolidation projects.

Novell's Business Service Management strategy, in stark contrast, seems to be a work in progress. Yes, BSM helps Novell customers to further improve system up-time. But Novell's efforts to cross-train SUSE Linux partners on Business Service Management are just starting.

Several Novell channel partners attended the New York event. Most were SUSE-focused, and just now ramping up on PlateSpin. And one of the partners claimed to be helping a major financial services firm migrate from Red Hat to Novell SUSE Linux because Novell allegedly offered better enterprise support services.

Still, mass migrations from Red Hat to Novell seem rare. Novell's real opportunity will likely involve server consolidation projects involving legacy Unix and Windows NT Server deployments. SUSE Linux is Novell's planned destination ... and PlateSpin is a GPS of sorts to help guide customers and partners through the migration process.

At least that's the spin from The VAR Guy

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