VMware will distribute and support Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server OS and also bundle the Linux variant with software appliances, under an arrangement between virtualisation provider VMware and Novell being announced on Wednesday.
Users who want to deploy VMware vSphere virtual machines with Suse Linux can get a free subscription to the Linux OS that includes patches and updates. VMware and solution provider partners will offer customers an option to purchase technical support for Suse Linux to be delivered directly by VMware.
"VMware customers will be getting the updates or patches not only for vSphere but also for Suse Linux Enterprise Server," said Bogomil Balkansky, VMware vice president of product marketing. Users can get a "seamless, unified maintenance and support experience" from a single vendor, he said.
Also, VMware will standardize its virtual appliances, which package an OS and an application with a pre-configured virtual machine into a self-contained unit, on Suse Linux as well. VMware has offered appliances such as vCenter AppSpeed, for managing the performance of virtualised multi-tier applications.
The VMware-Novell arrangement reduces complexity for customers and increases value, said Joe Wagner, Novell senior vice president and general manager for global alliances.
"We're delighted that VMware is endorsing our strategy to be the most portable OS for physical, virtual, and cloud environments," Wagner said.
The deal is a natural fit, said analyst Drue Reeves, of Burton Group.
"I wouldn't say it's earth-shattering, [but] it makes a lot of sense specifically from a Novell perspective in that a lot of customers are migrating off mainframes and midrange platforms," onto Linux, Reeves said They can opt for a virtualised Linux platform, he said.
Novell and VMware, however, must make sure they do not upset partners like IBM, which sells mainframes and Unix, and rival Linux vendors Red Hat and Canonical, who also do business with VMware, Reeves said.
The agreement with Novell, however, is not exclusive, Balkansky said. Although there are no plans now for similar arrangements with other vendors, the proposition is "definitely something that's not out of the question," he said. VMware will support customers who use the company's virtualisation technology with other Linux platforms, such as Red Hat or Canonical Ubuntu.
Reeves said he expects VMware will forge similar arrangements with Red Hat and Ubuntu.