Novell Moves Into Management Of Cloud, Virtual Computing Environments


Executing on its strategy to provide workload management tools for virtualization and cloud computing, Novell at its BrainShare conference this week unveiled an addition to its line of ZENworks configuration toolset and gave conference attendees a peek at an upcoming release of the vendor's Identity Manager software.

Novell also debuted Pulse, a real-time collaboration application, before some 2,500 customers and partners at BrainShare in Salt Lake City.

The IT megatrends of virtualization and cloud computing are fueling demand for what Novell calls "intelligent workload management" tools. In December Novell said it would position its development, security, systems management and business services management software for managing virtualized and cloud computing environments.

In a BrainShare keynote speech, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian said that by 2015 only 35 percent of computing workloads would run on physical systems with 45 percent running on virtual systems and 20 percent in the cloud. That's in contrast to today where most (82 percent) IT processes run on physical systems while only 16 percent run in virtual environments and 2 percent in the cloud.

"What it really boils down to is a challenge to you as IT professionals to think about how you're going to manage all three of those environments," Hovsepian said, addressing Novell's customers.

The new ZENworks Configuration Management virtual appliance, available now, includes a collection of desktop, asset and patch management capabilities. Built with SUSE Studio, Novell's development toolset for building software appliances, the new ZENworks Configuration Management virtual appliance runs on VMware's ESX infrastructure.

Novell said the virtual appliance version of ZENworks Configuration Management gives customers more flexible deployment options.

Novell also unveiled enhancements to the complete ZENworks line, including ZENworks 10 Configuration Management SP3, ZENworks 10 Patch Management SP3, ZENworks 10 Asset Management SP3 and ZENworks Application Virtualization 8. The key addition to all the software is support for Microsoft Windows 7, which Novell said would make it easier for businesses to manage large-scale upgrades to the new desktop operating system.

The company is offering a technology preview of the next-generation ZENworks 11 platform. Customers can download the software at http://www.novell.com/ZENworks11TechPreview.

Novell also provided BrainShare attendees with an early look at Identity Manager 4, the next release of the vendor's flagship identity management software, which is slated for formal debut at the BrainShare conference in Amsterdam in May. The new software will help businesses manage user identities across physical, virtual and cloud-computing systems. The software, for example, includes drivers that allow it to connect with Software-as-a-Service applications.

Novell takes the position that as more computing is spread across physical, virtual and cloud systems, identity management will be critical for managing security, privacy and compliance across mixed computing environments. "How do you manage all these environments in a secure way? It's all about identity," Hovsepian said in his keynote.

Unveiled last summer and currently in beta is Novell Cloud Security Service, software that SaaS product vendors and SaaS hosting companies use to help their customers manage security in the cloud. The company also is developing Novell Cloud Manager, a product slated for release in August that provides automated workload provisioning tools for cloud-computing environments.

Cloud manager is a response to customers who have been asking for "cloud-in-a-box" capabilities, said Jim Ebzery, Novell senior vice president and general manager, security, management and operating platforms, in an interview at BrainShare. He said such products should provide new sales opportunities for Novell's channel partners.

Some have questioned whether Novell has the talent to make a successful bid to expand into the realms of virtualization and cloud computing. Hovsepian, in an interview following his keynote, said the company acquired a significant amount of virtualization expertise when it bought PlateSpin, a developer of data center management tools, in March 2008. As for cloud technology, the CEO said Novell has been hiring engineers with those skills.

The focus on intelligent workload management provides Novell channel partners with a way to sell to higher-level management, said John Dragoon, Novell's chief marketing officer and head of its channel operations. "You have an opportunity to have a thought-leadership conversation with your customers about secure management of workloads in the physical, virtual and cloud worlds," he said in an interview.

Novell's intelligent workload management "takes a more holistic view of the enterprise" and fits well with the services focus of Novacoast, a Novell channel partner based in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Novacoast CTO Adam Gray. As identity management tools become increasingly available to smaller companies, that generates more consulting and development opportunities for solution providers like Novacoast, he said in an interview at BrainShare.