October 20, 2010, 5:24 PM — The Wall Street Journal is reporting rumors that VMware may buy Novell's SUSE Linux OS business, though Attachmate is competing for the rest of the company's assets.
VMware and Novell have agreed on everything but price, according to the WSJ, which cites unnamed analysts as saying the tools built to help Linux administrators manage virtualized OSes will strengthen VMware's own VM management apps.
Gartner analyst Chris Wolf likes the idea for the strength of Novell's SUSE as much as any other reason.
VMware had already agreed to include SUSE with the vSphere hypervisor, and announced plans to make SUSE the base OS VMware Studio virtual-appliance development kit. Virtual appliances are preconfigured applications that can be installed on a hypervisor to run as virtual machines with a minimum of time or effort from the customer. VMware had relied on an ultra-light OS called the Just Enough OS.
Having its own high-quality OS reduces the impact of having Microsoft, Oracle and Red Hat tune their OSes for their virtualization stacks and against VMware's, Wolf writes.
In that way of looking at things, SUSE Linux -- a perfectly solid Linux distro for under-the-covers roles in the data center or cloud platforms, but nothing that's been setting the world on fire -- makes VMware a better competitor against Microsoft because VMware doesn't have to rely on Windows as the operation system for the VM.
We're not exactly moving toward a world where a lot fewer things run on Windows, though. Android, sure. "The Cloud" in general, sure, except the apps that run on often run on Windows, which run on VMs which run on the cloud.
So, yeah, it might be good to have your own OS in there for server-based VMs, and Linux management tools are certainly more mature than VMware's, especially if you like character-based interfaces.
But can SUSE Linux be a huge win for VMware as a whole? I just don't see it.