When you think virtualization, VMware comes to mind as the leader, correct? Sure ESX is the premium product right now for x86 virtualization, but there is a movement that needs awareness right now. Last week I mentioned that we should evaluate Citrix XenServer and this week I will expand the scope of that recommendation. The base technology of virtualization will soon be a commodity, and basic elements are free with VMware Server, XenServer Express Edition, Microsoft Virtual Server, and Microsoft Virtual PC. The base virtualization technology is now readily available so many ways, that the real distinguishing factor will be the management of the virtual environments, the high-availability, costs, and ease of use.
Once shunned out of many IT shops in lieu of the “Windows Revolution” Novell now offers a virtualization management layer, Novell ZENWorks Orchestrator. Now, before you blow off to some other post – consider this – most Novell products are really good at what they do. NetWare was a superior file server (sure – there were client issues and interoperability issues – but there still is no better rights assignments for file serving), Novell jumped on the Linux boat early, and you can see how Linux has clearly maintained its momentum. So, from the management standpoint we will really need to evaluate this solution as well. Orchestrator also is going to embrace cross-platform (Xen, VMware, and Microsoft) management. That alone should be enought to get your ears perked up. Remember, virtualization is relatively young in the x86 space – so anything we can do to not close any doors from the intial embracing of the technologies would be a good idea.