Novell, Virtual Iron tighten data center ties

Novell Inc. is strengthening its relationship with data-center virtualization and management startup Virtual Iron Software Inc., the two companies are due to announce Monday. Novell is providing support and application certification for Virtual Iron's software in a preconfigured kernel shipping with the latest release of Novell's enterprise-level Suse Linux operating system.

Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server (LES) 9 System Pack 3 recently began shipping with the preconfigured kernel, according to Justin Steinman, worldwide data center marketing for Novell. Suse users wishing to use Virtual Iron will still have to go to the startup to buy the full version of its virtualization software, he added.

More and more users are looking to run enterprise applications and databases virtually in their data centers, Steinman said."You can run DB2 on [Suse] LES on Virtual Iron," Steinman said in relation to IBM Corp.'s DB2 relational database. "Linux is moving to the heart of the data center."

This is the first time that Virtual Iron's extensions to the Linux kernel have been supported by a commercial distributor of the open-source operating system, according to Mike Grandinetti, chief marketing officer of Virtual Iron. He hopes having Novell's support for the extensions will encourage more users to adopt Virtual Iron in their data centers.

Virtual Iron doesn't have a similar relationship in place with the other leading Linux distribution company Red Hat Inc., but the startup is "working on it," Grandinetti said. The enhanced relationship between Virtual Iron and Novell isn't exclusive and won't affect the partnerships Novell has with other players in the virtualization arena including VMware Inc. and open-source XenSource Inc., according to Steinman.

Virtual Iron differentiates itself from other players in the virtualization market by offering software that can manage not only the virtualization of a data center's servers, but also its storage and network virtualization, Grandinetti said.

Novell's relationship with Virtual Iron is a long-term one, Steinman said, with the vendor planning to also include the Virtual Iron kernel in the next release of its Suse LES, version 10, which is due out at the end of May.

Although Virtual Iron's focus is on Linux currently, the company is still on track to provide support for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system in the middle of this year, according to Grandinetti. The startup is also working with Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) to increase the level of integration between Virtual Iron's software and HP's industry-standard servers, he added. Industry-standard servers are based on Intel Corp.'s x86 instruction sets and the 64-bit derivatives of that technology such as the Opteron chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

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