In a slightly strange “didn’t they already have Xen in the kernel” kind of way, Novell has certified Suse Linux Enterprise Server as a “perfect guest” running on Citrix XenServer, allowing joint support of the combined solution. The deal is asymmetric (it wouldn’t really make sense to run XenServer on SLES) but it reflects an open approach characteristic of the way Novell operates, in embracing the reality that customers will want to use one of a number of possible hypervisors, and that Novell has to get along with everyone. In return Novell is starting to push it’s PlateSpin Recon product through the Citrix channel.
PlateSpin is “a data center workload profiling, analysis and planning tool that combines consolidation planning with capacity management to give customers an ongoing view of their physical and virtual infrastructure” or, if you remove the marketing speak, something slightly better than waving a finger in the air to determine the number of VMs you can put on a physical box.
The benefits of using PlateSpin to the customer are that it provides a methodology and a degree of credible confidence in dealing with ROI and/or carbon footprint calculations, thus driving the business case and eliminating one of the key imponderables that senior management will often see in a virtualization initiative. One benefit to Citrix (and indeed to Novell) is that it engages very early in the sales cycle for virtualization, and once embedded in the pilot, offers a subsequent cross-selling opportunity for both Citrix and Novell. It is also interesting to note HP endorsing the Citrix/Novell relationship. The role of PlateSpin is to quantify the number of new virtualized servers onto which hitherto-physical servers are to be consolidated. Whilst consolidation inevitibly means that servers are not replaced one-for-one, it makes the HP salesman’s life easier if the process for consolidation is controlled and clear cut.
Also, when PlateSpin was an independent company it operated pretty-much exclusively alongside VMware, giving customers the confidence to roll out ESX, based on a tangible business case (rather than a finger in the air). The fact that Citrix is now able to leverage the technology (and associated credibility and methodology) through its partnership with Novell helps Citrix tighten the screw on VMware, and signals its intent to drive a credible solution into a maturing market, where fingers in the air won’t justify a business case.