VMware and Novell made big news last week with their announcement that VMware will distribute SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and push all its virtual appliances onto that OS.
One of the big questions around the announcement: Why Novell? As News Director Alex Barrett wrote in her story, “Red Hat still leads Novell in terms of Linux market share by a wide margin, leading some to wonder why VMware didn’t partner with that company instead.”
VMware isn’t the only virtualization vendor to spurn Red Hat lately. In fact, this latest news makes you wonder if Red Hat’s virtualization strategy is backfiring.
VMware said it chose Novell because of SUSE’s broad ISV support, particularly with SAP. But there’s more to it than that. As Barrett pointed out, “Red Hat has been pursuing its own virtualization strategy — first with Xen, and more recently with KVM — putting it directly in VMware’s crosshairs.”
The virtualization tide first started to turn against Red Hat back in April, when Citrix went on the attack. (Citrix, with its flag firmly planted in Xen soil, is especially threatened by Red Hat’s KVM push.) So CTO Simon Crosby countered by encouraging Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) customers to move to SLES or Oracle Enterprise Linux.
I wrote at the time that Red Hat can’t afford to turn off its core customers — admins and engineers who work with RHEL — in its pursuit of the virtualization market. Well, the company is already turning off the core vendors that it may have been better off partnering with instead. Customers may not be far behind.
It’s a serious issue for the company as its annual Red Hat Summit approaches. The show begins Tuesday, and I’ll be there covering this topic in depth.