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Novell Launches SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9

Aug 04, 2004, 04:30 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

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By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Correspondent

At LinuxWorld today, Novell rolled out SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9, touting the release as the first enterprise-oriented server based on the new Linux 2.6 kernel. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Oracle all spoke at the event, and about a dozen other hardware and software partners have also expressed support for the new server, which is available immediately.

Linux 2.6 kernel support adds the scalability and performance needed for "truly mission-critical Linux," contended Novell Chairman of the Board and CEO Jack Messman, during the launch event. SLES 9 is also the first enterprise server to be produced by Novell since the acquisition of SuSE Linux about seven months ago. The product proves Novell's commitment to Linux "over the long haul," according to Messman.

Chris Stone, Novell's vice chairman, office of the CEO and Markus Rex, VP and general manager, SuSE Linux, drilled down a bit into some of SLES 9's specific features. Stone pointed to inclusion of the first release of Mono, for migrating applications to Linux; Intel optimization tools and components; class kernel resource management (CKRM), a capability for dynamic allocation of resources co-developed with IBM; and enhancements to Novell's hot plug technology.

Rex cited improvements to the Common Criteria Evaluation support begun in SLES 7, as well as to YaST, a tool for installation, configuration and administration that Novell inherited with the SuSE acquisition. YaST now includes an Auto feature enabling deployment of Linux servers without user intervention, according to Rex. Novell has also added CIM support, for simplified integration with outside management environments.

Other new capabilities in SLES 9 include a new Enterprise Volume Manager (EVMS), for easing cluster administration; and support for Samba 3 file and print services, for example. A separately available development kit provides support for Eclipse, Kdevelop, Mono, Perl, Java, and Python.

In remarks at the event, which was also broadcast live from San Francisco via teleconference, several partners proposed that with SLES 9, Linux is fully enterprise-ready at last. SLES 9 "truly is high performance (and) high-scale," maintained Steve Geary, HP's director of worldwide Linux research.

"We feel lucky to be able to demo (SLES 9)," said Daryl Porter, VP of Linux service engineering at Oracle.

"The momentum of Linux is undeniable," according to Debra Conrad, VP of Intel's sales and marketing group. "The time is right for this announcement."

Intel's Conrad and Jim Stallings, IBM's general manager for strategic growth initiatives, each cited demand for enterprise Linux in the government market. Governments are looking to run "mission-critical applications on one standard OS," according to Stallings.

Intel will target Linux systems at government as well as the finance and education markets, according to Conrad. SLES 9 provides "an extra layer of credibility" to Linux, she claimed. Intel plans to "kick up the relationship (with Novell) a notch," through additional sales and marketing activities.

During a Q&A session with reporters, Stone noted that about 30 to 40 ISvs are listed on the Mono Web site as porting applications to Linux. "There are also some major apps that don't want to be announced yet," he said. Mono has received around 50,000 downloads, according to Stone.

Also today, Novell made other announcements that included an SOA Suite with complete end-to-end Linux support for both SuSE and Red Hat; an expanded partnership with JBoss; and enhanced partner certification programs.

Novell is bundling the JBoss Application Server with SLES 9, and will bundle JBoss with exteNd and some other products starting next year, said Stone. Novell is also providing JBoss with level 1, 2 and 3 support.

"The CIOs of the world want one place to go that's supported," Messman told the journalists. "So you'll truly have one throat to choke if things go wrong."

Messman said that Novell initially "didn't like" switching over to a revenue model that isn't based on licensing. Now, though, Novell is glad to have gotten a relatively early lead in this area, he added.

Novell handed out a press kit with quotes expressing support from AMD, Sun Microsystems, and about a dozen other partners, beyond the four represented at the launch. "Sun is using SLES 8, and will be moving to SLES 9," Rex said.

Messman also seemed to give more weight to recent statements from Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz that Sun might purchase Novell. In answer to a reporter's question on this subject, Messman said, "We don't comment, but I think that article speaks for itself, if you read it carefully." Messman was referring to a posting on Schwartz's blog that was publicsized by the Wall Street Journal.

Novell's new SLES 9 supports hardware architectures that include x86; AMD64; Intel Itanium; and IBM Power, zSeries and S/390.

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