Novell takes SUSE Linux to the cloud with Amazon

BOSTON, Mass. -- Novell was to have announced at LinuxCon that users will be able to run their own customized instances of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 and 11 on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. While the announcement was pulled at the last minute, I'm told that the marriage of SLES and AWS is going ahead.

Markus Rex, Novell's SVP and General Manager of Open Platform Solutions, told me prior to the formal announcement that users will be able to create their own special SLES blend with SUSE Studio and then upload and use it on AWS. Once it's there, you can pay Amazon to take care of all its updates, patches, and support. Or, if you'd rather, you can pay Amazon for a generic ready-to-run SLES server on the cloud. They'll be happy to 'sell' you one.

This new offering will be available around the world, and you can pay for using it on an hourly basis. Essentially what Novell is doing here is making AWS a SLES reseller. In the background, Novell will be doing the heavy-lifting on support, but business users will have only one throat to choke if there are any problems: AWS.

What I find neat about this, and what makes it different from the other Linux-on-the-cloud offerings out there, is that you can fine-tune the server in your own business. Once you're happy with it, then you can upload it to the EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud). After that, you don't have to worry about it. Amazon takes care of it.

I like this combination of having the server "your way" while still letting someone else worry with the day-to-day maintenance issues. Of course, with SUSE Studio you can also run your SLES instances on your own iron as well as on the Amazon cloud.

Rex said that Novel may be offering similar server packages on other clouds such as Fujitsu, IBM, and Vodacom Business. Eventually, he told me, they may also offer SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) on the cloud as well. That will come farther down the road. The problem isn't that it's hard to do. It's not. It's that Novell has found most businesses aren't ready to trust their desktops to a cloud yet.

In the meantime, Rex told me that SLES on EC2 will be available by the end of the third quarter. Check out the SUSE Cloud Program for more information.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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