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04.23.08

Novell Meets rPath in Raleigh, North Carolina (Hometown of Red Hat)

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 12:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It just tells you how desperate Microsoft is for a competitor that they’re holding up a software box produced by 100 guys in the hills of North Carolina. Who are they trying to kid?”

Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat at the time

This one might make you slightly queasy if you consider not only geographical factors to be of relevance, but also employment record and baggage.

Mentioned last Saturday and throughout BrainShare coverage was Novell’s appliance ambition. Novell announced this more officially last week and one of the latest articles covering this is from techtarget.com.

With the beta launch of its SUSE Appliance Program, Waltham, Mass.-based Novell Inc. has climbed aboard the growing movement toward application appliances. The goal of the initiative: to enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to build new applications faster by creating stackable components that can be combined with programs to build customized applications, said Nat Friedman, Novell’s chief technology and strategy officer for open source.

Then came some more details about the product’s identity and role. The name JeOS (pronounced “juice”) was probably first introduced by Canonical some months ago and Novell adopted the same acronym, which is echoed quite uniformly across the Web, including in this article.

Novell Puts Out JEOS Beta, Starts Appliance Effort

[...]

In the case of Ubuntu, which has a main memory footprint of between 320 MB and 686 MB depending on the installed options, the high-end version of JEOS could come in at around 215 MB of main memory, not including the 32 MB footprint for the new ESX Server 3i hypervisor. A regular ESX Server 3 hypervisor weighed in at over 2 GB. So this is a radically improved memory footprint, therefore making it appropriate for hypervisor-style appliances.

But now comes the interesting bit. A couple of days ago the following press release surfaced.

rPath to OEM SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell for Appliances

rPath®, whose unique technology simplifies application distribution and management through virtual appliances, today announced a technology partnership enabling application providers to use rPath’s rBuilder® to create virtual appliances using the rPath Appliance Platform™ and SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server from Novell®. The agreement promises to reduce complexity and costs of application distribution and deployment, while maintaining the strategic value of investments in application certification. The Novell-rPath collaboration marks a significant industry milestone, enabling customers for the first time to utilize a leading open-source operating system with a leading virtual appliance lifecycle management platform.

Here is a quick and short post about it.

Until now, however, rPath’s virtual appliances have been released on the company’s homegrown version of Linux. With the new partnership, developers that have built applications in SUSE Linux can just transfer them over to rPath without any trouble.

Then came some newer and more in-depth articles, such as this one

Novell will provide rPath with SUSE Linux Enterprise source code and maintenance patches for incorporation into rPath’s “appliance platform.”

rPath and Novell issued a statement that included endorsements of their partnership from SAP and VMware.

[...]

Eric Troan, who co-founded rPath, with Marshall, was among the top developers at Red Hat before leaving the firm. Marshall also was an executive at Red Hat.

Mind that last sentence again. This isn’t news to us, but the fact that the company is even based in Raleigh is interesting nonetheless. More interesting is the fact that it was rejected by others whom it approached, including Red Hat.

The Raleigh, NC company has approached Red Hat, Ubuntu and Sun about using rPath’s application packaging technology but those vendors decided to develop their own appliance offerings, he claims.

Mind the headline also: “rPath to OEM Novell’s SUSE Linux to reduce legal worries.” See the FUD effect? Since when are Linux appliances associated with legal worries? Were such phrases injected in by rPath, Novell, or Microsoft?

To sum up some findings, what we have here is another company that associates itself with the Microsoft-taxed distribution, which is further complicated by the origins of rPath. It comes from the same company and people to whom the Novell/Microsoft deal is a pain. rPath essentially becomes a SUSE Linux (Ballnux) repackager.

There is something worth stressing again. To Microsoft, Novell is like Citrix. Microsoft doesn’t need to buy it (it might even face antitrust scrutiny over this), but both Citrix and Novell do Microsoft’s work, by proxy. Some even consider Novell a GPL proxy of Microsoft, which is unsurprising because Microsoft hates the GPL and avoids direct contact with it at all costs.

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5 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    April 23, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Gravatar

    > The name JeOS (pronounced “juice”) was probably first introduced by Canonical some months ago

    Wrong, it was within the blog of some VMware employee. See lwn.net discussion.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 23, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks, that’s good to know, It’s also why the word “probably” was there.

  3. OPEN Honest said,

    April 26, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Gravatar

    Your all wrong, this concept was introduced by Astrum, Inc. two years ago under NDA by ex-novell employees who proposed a solution stack approach in a hardened appliance that took a solution stack approach that took IDM from provisioning to access control for compliance and integrated a HSM card for encyption. This ISV made a FIPS 3 compliant appliance that all Novell solutions could leverage. Read the BLOG:

    The one thing we all have to remember is that open source leads to new concepts and market opportunity for small development shops. Just ask Astrum Inc. http://www.astruminc.com, what astrum did was to develop the first SUSE based Solution Stack using Novell technology. What they produced and what the independent testing reported was a beast of an appliance and Astrum published these reports on its website.
    This solution described at RSA is the first true Identity based encryption system that can target users who have access to critical data or compliant sensitive data and harden compliance based policies that are compliance mandated. Astrum then did a OEM with nCipher and converted the nCIpher HSM from a 32bit card to a true 64bit card with eDirectory integration. Now if that wasn’t enough they then developed a key management system that never exposes any part of the key to a hacker outside the appliance and without making a customer change it’s network or put agents on it’s storage. I was very impressed as I spoke to representative from Astrum. Now according to nCipher as told to me at RSA this makes the Astrum solution the only solution to meet the up coming FIPS 3 compliance changes and make this appliance very unique in the market space.
    The problem:
    The concept from what I could gather was presented to Novell under NDA two years ago at the end of 2006 and promises of concept protection were made and agreements were signed and both worked with business units to ensure no competitive issues may arise. They did not! So Astrum shared with Novell executives the plan that at the end of the day for example map 8 of the PCI requirements to the appliance along with all the major compliances while having the ability to leverage all the security solutions sold by Novell or any other security software based solution that could sit in the network. What happened is Astrum became the first ever to develop and Novell based solution stack using SUSE enterprise server in a appliance only to have it stolen from them!.. Hence the following links.
    http://sev.prnewswire.com/computer-electronics/20080416/AQW05816042008-1.html
    http://www.novell.com/linux2/appliance/
    So if the solution is potentially a market changing concept as Linux can be why expose a concept to a company like Novell who touts protection in the Open source community, of course they promise protection from Microsoft but who promises concept protection from Novell. When Novell realized the market impact of such a solution they have moved to slowly create competition for little Astrum who is coming to market with out any assistance as promised by Novell. This solution from what I hear from internal Novell had enough potential market impact that it changed a direction for a major software company like it did for Novell. Prior to 07 and from what I understand Novell couldn’t spell compliance much less understands an appliance stack approach to compliancy and encryption.
    Develop for Novell on SUSE or jeOS, and expose a development and market plan, NO WAY!!! I really feel for these guys and have to ask why anyone would trust Novell and are they truly moving to a channel model.

  4. Escubar said,

    May 31, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Gravatar

    Open Honest: You have no idea. The concept of Appliances is much older then you would think and people have delivered appliances based on SUSE Linux well back into the mid 90s!

  5. Open Honest said,

    June 2, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Gravatar

    Escubar,

    Your are correct appliance are not new. However lets define this:
    Also called an appliance server, a specialized server that is designed for ease of installation and maintenance. Server appliances have their hardware and software bundled in the product, so all applications are pre-installed. The appliance is plugged into an existing network and can begin working almost immediately, with little configuration. It is designed to run with little or no support.

    A specialized server! with bundled software and hardware! Now why would be getting into the Hardware business, last I checked they are a software company that is moving to 100% channel. The only thing I see Astrum doing is challanging a breech of non disclosure. What does that have to do with an appliance for a software company. Maybe Astrum validated the solution stack approach and Novell saw the potential.

    Go figure.

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