Novell’s Service Pack 2 for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 released yesterday has one especially hot item in its bag of assorted goodies: the Xen 3.2 virtualization engine. Since both SUSE as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008 run natively (and fully supported by Microsoft) on Xen 3.2, Novell customers can run both SUSE and Windows virtual guests on the platform with no loss in performance — or so Novell promises.
Bernard Golden, a Linux author and the CEO of Navica Inc. consulting, said cross-platform virtualization could be convenient for a Novell shop that wants to test or deploy a Windows application virtually on SUSE machines prior to a full-scale rollout without tying up a lot of Windows servers.
“The key thing is to get Windows running a virtual machine on a hypervisor without an emulator,” Golden said. “If you can get rid of the [emulator] software layer, you’ll improve performance a lot.”
But live migration — the ability to move workloads from one server to another to balance loads or provide backup for one another — is even more important. And the ability to move computer images from one machine to another in a second or less without taking the server offline is critical, he said.
And now, with both Windows and SUSE fully supported on the Xen 3.2 hypervisor, users can test or deploy Windows applications — or move workloads around — on a virtualized server without tying up an entire machine to do so, Golden said. And by testing, data centers can prevent deployment conflicts with other functions, such as identity management, he said.
“It gives data centers a lot of flexibility to be able to do this without operating directly on the hardware,” Golden said. And with Windows’ dominance of application market, being able to test Windows apps virtually on Novell machines is pretty darned slick.