Novell Defines Its Service-Driven Data Center Concept

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-04-13 Print this article Print

Hewlett-Packard has its Adaptive Computing campaign, Sun Microsystems has long had its Open Systems approach, Cisco Systems recently unveiled its Unified Computing strategy and IBM has had a few of these campaigns. Now it's Novell's turn. Novell will be using the Service-Driven Data Center as its go-to sales and marketing theme, centered around the recent launch of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system.

In order to solidify a corporate image in the minds of potential customers, every major enterprise IT systems provider believes it must have an all-inclusive sales and marketing theme or strategy.

Hewlett-Packard has its Adaptive Computing campaign. Sun Microsystems has long had its Open Systems approach. Cisco Systems recently unveiled its Unified Computing strategy.

IBM has had a number of these over the years. "Autonomic" (self-monitoring, self-healing computing) was one in play a few years ago. In 2008 it was Information On Demand. In 2009 it has focused on the IBM Blue Cloud.

Now it's Novell's turn. The open-source-oriented operating system company told eWEEK April 10 that it is now using "Service-Driven Data Center" as its go-to sales and marketing theme, centered around the March 24 launch of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system.

Basically, this is an indication to the market that the company is ready to bring the products of companies it has recently acquired-PlateSpin and ManagedObjects-into a corporate data center marketing scheme.

There's a lot of competition out there; any semblance of organization will look good to a potential customer.

What's a service-driven data center, anyway?

Data centers by nature provide a service to the enterprises in which they reside. So what's unique about a "service-driven" data center?

"In many cases, organizations are already moving toward that [goal]," Novell Director of Product Marketing Richard Whitehead told eWEEK. "Our concept of the service-driven data center is specifically geared to delivering the services that business users need. It's all focused around the IT department being a service provider, whether it's internal to the organization or external with things like cloud [computing], even though we know cloud is still in its infancy."

The truly service-driven data center is geared toward providing agility and flexibility while still maintaining control of the data, Whitehead said.

"I often talk to customers about something called 'shadow IT,' " Whitehead said. "An example: The boss gets a new iPhone, goes to IT and tells them, 'I want to get my e-mail on my iPhone.' They say, 'Ah, sorry, we don't support it.' The boss says, 'Oh, that's interesting; I'm going to call my buddy who put something [a service] on his credit card, and they can synchronize that for me.'

"Next thing you know, you have a shadow IT thing going on, because you're not providing the service the customer wanted."

Three main characteristics

There are three main characteristics of a service-driven data center, Whitehead said.

"No. 1, it must be properly built," he said. "It must be able to work with multiple operating systems, hypervisors, virtualization, cloud computing-the whole nine yards. That's where SUSE Enterprise Linux 11 fits, because it is interoperable with Unix, Windows, VMware, and most other applications and layers.

"The next piece we call 'Manage.' This is where our PlateSpin products come in: to leverage all the assets within an organization, be they hardware, software or whatever. You need a management system that can support that," he said.

Novell's PlateSpin Workload Management software uses the virtualization layer-be it VMware, Citrix or Microsoft-to optimize, balance and protect all servers in the data center.

The final piece is what Novell calls "Measure," Whitehead said.

"That involves the recent acquisition of ManagedObjects, where our business service management plays. We feel we have a unique advantage because we are able to work across multiple platforms and hardware types," he said. "If you can't measure it, how do you know if you're delivering the services you need to deliver?"

SLES 11, PlateSpin and ManagedObjects data center components are available now. For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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