Partners See Breakthough With Novell Cloud Manager

Novell is turning its technology guns on the cloud as part of an all-out offensive that includes the release of what partners are calling a breakthrough product for building and managing private clouds.

Novell Cloud Manager, which is currently being beta tested by 10 early adopters and is slated to be released in the fourth quarter, provides on-demand private cloud provisioning, leveraging all the major virtualization offerings including VMware's market leading offering, Microsoft's Hyper-V and open-source virtualization products Xen and KVM.

The Novell Cloud Manager is part of a no-holds barred shift by Novell to turn its impressive technology arsenal on what it is calling the emerging intelligent workload management (IWM) market. It's a market that could prove explosive given the challenges companies of all sizes face moving between private and public clouds and virtual infrastructure.

Michael Meyer, principal architect for Paragon Development Systems, an Oconomowoc, Wis. solution provider that was named both a Novell and Cisco partner of the year in 2010, calls Novell Cloud Manager a "breakthrough" that will make it dramatically easier to quickly provision private clouds.

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"The product does 80-90 percent of the work that would have to be done to manually provision a private cloud," says Meyer, who is beta testing the new Novell software. "I have not seen another product that does this. This is Novell taking a few of their technologies and combining them into a solid product."

Paragon intends to not only sell Novell Cloud Manager to customers interested in provisioning their own private clouds, but also to use it to "cater to the needs of customers whose data centers are maxed out and need to source their workloads to outside providers like us," said Meyer.

He calls the Novell Cloud Manager product the next wave in cloud computing. "We have been positioning our ourselves and our customers to take advantage of the cloud," he said. "Products like Novell Cloud Manager are going to allow us to take that next step."

Novell Cloud Manager takes some of the technology Novell received when it acquired PlateSpin two years ago for $205 million and beefs it up with some new Web 2.0 technology on the front end, said Meyer.

Novell Cloud Manager is just one of many offerings that Novell has put together under the IWM umbrella. Novell also plans to release in the fourth quarter ZenWorks Configuration Manager 11, which has location awareness technology that could prevent unauthorized access to public clouds.

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Richard Whitehead, a Novell veteran who was just tapped for the all important IWM director of marketing post, compares Novell's pioneering IWM product stand to Ford's breakthrough introduction of the Ford Explorer in 1990. The Ford Explorer single handedly created the SUV market. Many credit Ford with turning the SUV into a game changing automobile market phenomenon. "This is a big time game changer just like SUV was to the car industry," he said.

Whitehead insists that Novell's IWM offerings are not simply rebranded offerings from Novell's technology stable. He says solution providers that are "nimble and embrace the (IWM) technology are the ones that are going to be the leaders over the next several years."

"We have 100 percent confidence in our ability to lead this market," he added. "This is not a minivan with a car engine. It's a game changer, a unique way to lead the market."

IDC, a Framingham, Mass. market research firm, for its part, sees IWM as an emerging market that integrates a number of technologies that Novell has in its portfolio.

"The ultimate intelligent workload management (IWM) vision is to transform the packaging of workloads in a way that bundles appropriately configured operating system, middleware and application code into a single unit that can be deployed, secured, managed and monitored on a consistent, automated basis, regardless of whether it is deployed onto physical, virtual or cloud infrastructure," says an IDC whitepaper on IWM.

Meyer sees a big demand for IWM, given virtualization overload that has overtaken companies. "I think there is a going to be a quite a demand for IWM as IT shops become overwhelmed with their virtual infrastructure," he said. "As virtualization grows, a lot of companies are getting to the point where it is very difficult to manage."

Sohrab Kakalia, vice president for Systems Integration Innovation, Strategy & Alliances for Infosys Technologies, the Bangalore, India systems integration giant, sees Novell's IWM products providing dramatic cost savings for companies moving to the cloud.

"What Novell has is a complete set of linked technology capabilities across heterogenous platforms," he said. "You are not tied to a particular platform." That means big cost savings in provisioning cloud services given the multiple virtualization and application platforms that are being used by most companies, said Kakalia,

He is also impressed by the Novell PlateSpin technology which allows service providers like Infosys Technologies to quickly identify the technology assets in an organization as the first step in moving to virtualized environments. "It gives you a mathematical and statistical analysis of what your options are and comes back to you with a real life workable option," he said.

The Novell Cloud Manager product couldn't have come at a better time, said Kakalia. "We're at the inflection point where clients are actively looking at cloud as an extension of their enterprise platform," he said.