I know what you're thinking. "Novell is still around? And they have an extra $205m in cash?" I don't know too much about PlateSpin or Novell (in the context of 2008), so in this article I'll look at both companies and try to establish a framework for a conversation from readers about what this could mean.
PlateSpin is primarily a software company. Their main product, PowerConvert, reminds me a little tiny bit of Ardence / Citrix Provisioning Server. PowerCovert is sort of the "ultimate" migration / conversion tool for P2V, V2P, V2V, and P2P migrations. The focus, though, is not so much on the "one time" migrations. Instead, PowerConvert is really designed to move server images (or "workloads" to use the trendy name) back and forth between "computing capacity" (physical servers or VMs). PowerConvert is compatible with most operating systems (Windows, Linux, and others) and most virtualization systems (Microsoft Virtual Server, VMware, and all the Xen-based products).
Like I said, in addition to the one-time conversions / migrations between platforms or hardware, PowerConvert can perform continuous syncronization (file-level or block-level) between systems (local or remote) and bring up a backup system within seconds of a primary system failing. And to take that a step further, PowerConvert can create flexible images that are not hardware dependent, inserting custom drivers or kernel components as needed to ensure that an image workload from one server can run on another server.
PlateSpin's second main product is only a few weeks old, called "Forge."As you can imagine, the PowerConvert software product would make a pretty cool backup solution. (Imagine, for example, a single VMware server that with a huge disk that could be in sync with any server in your environment. If a server failed, a VM could be launched instantly and that server could be up and running again, regardless of whether the failed server was physical or virtual.) That idea, in a nutshell, is what PlateSpin Forge is. Forge is hardware. (Treated as an appliance, actually.) It's huge server with 16GB of RAM and 2.5TB of storage. You can use it to continuously back-up dozens of live servers, and if any one (or several of them) fail, mirror images of them can be up and running in minutes.
The Forge appliance is in the $50k price neighborhood, based on VMware VI3 and of course PlateSpin's PowerConvert. And since PowerConvert can move workloads seamlessly between physical and virtual environments, and between different hypervisors, you can basically drop this Forge box anywhere and it can provide a nice business continuity solution for a lot of different scenarios.
So these are both really cool things.
Seriously, I'm not trying to diss Novell here. But other than them buying SuSe a few years ago and other than all the open source ads in the IT magazines, I really have no idea what Novell does anymore. A quick check of their website shows that they have, wow, something like 100 products. I wonder if they can do anything truly interesting anymore or if now they're just a huge collection house like Quest Software or Computer Associates or IBM/Lotus/Tivoli or HP Software.
Wow! ZENworks is still around! Cool! There's even a ZENworks Virtual Machine Manager, but I sure can't find too many details about it. (I hope people don't confuse ZEN and Xen.) Okay, now we're getting somewhere. So Novell does recognize that virtualization exists. And it appears that they're going to be hypervisor-agnostic too, so that's good for PlateSpin.
But really, I have no idea what this will mean? Is PlateSpin better off now that Novell owns them? How open source-friendly was PlateSpin? Does that matter for Novell?
Hey! Citrix likes this move
Check out this Novell / PlateSpin quote from Peter Levine, SVP of Citrix's Virtualization & Management Division.
"Citrix has a great relationship with PlateSpin and is excited to see them become part of Novell's open data center management portfolio. With this addition, Novell will be able to offer an even richer set of tools to manage strategic virtual infrastructure systems like Citrix XenServer across a heterogeneous data center."
Citrix has never been particularly open source-friendly, although after acquiring XenSource they at least have to pay the open source community lip service.
I ask you, readers: What does this mean for all involved?