Enterprise Linux Log

Jun 27 2007   9:01AM GMT

Expert asks, “Are two Windows drivers worth more than SLES 10?”

ITKE ITKE Profile: ITKE

It appears I’ve been had. I reported last week that Novell alleged it was “first to market” with drivers for Windows and Linux that plug into Xen’s fast paravirtualized I/O stack. Simon Crosby over at the Server Virtualization Blog says this is not true (SVB is our sister blog here at TechTarget — j.l.).

Here’s what Novell said:

Holger Dyroff, vice president of SUSE Linux Enterprise product management, said that with the release of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack, his company will become the first vendor to offer support for Windows and Red Hat guests running on Xen. In July, Novell will ship drivers for Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003. The virtualization consists of a bundle of paravirtualized network, bus and block device drivers that enable unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems to run as virtual machines on top of the Xen hypervisor. Drivers for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 will be released later this summer at no additional charge.

Enter Simon Crosby, who I definitely have to put on my speed dial just in case this happens again. Crosby asks, “when last did your favorite OS vendor make a great public fanfare about delivering two new device drivers, and then charge more than the price of their OS to use them?” Long story short, Crosby breaks down the pricing in real world terms, and finds what Novell is basically saying with its latest virtualization announcement is that two Windows Drivers are worth more than SLES 10. Wow!

So, you pay $349 per year for SLES 10, and an additional $299 per year for up to four Windows VMs, totaling $648. But there’s still no mention of VM management, VHD/VMDK support, backups, P2V, snapshotting, cloning, suspend/resume or the storage management that you’d expect of a useful virtualization platform [...] What’s amazing about the Novell announcement is that for a workload with more than 4 VMs, the total leaps to $1148, and the price of the Windows drivers is about double the price of SLES 10 itself! Now, I’m proud of our high performance Windows Drivers, the ACPI HAL optimizations and comprehensive Windows suspend/resume and live relocation support that we offer, but they are just a part of the product.

Bottom line is this: without the included management tools, Crosby has a hard time believing any IT manager in their right mind would want to pay double to use SLES for Windows virtualization. He concludes with a great question for vendors and IT managers alike: “Can any OS vendor properly understand and consciously optimize the user’s experience with a competitive product?”

They sure are trying, but for now it’s definitely a game of wait-and-see. Does anyone out there care to try and tackle that question?

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