Novell Previews Open Enterprise Server 2, Delays SLES 10 SP1
Published: December 5, 2006
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Operating system supplier Novell last week gave customers a sneak peek at the forthcoming version of its Open Enterprise Server platform, which mixes Linux and NetWare into a single, malleable product. That future software, called Open Enterprise Server 2 and code-named "Cypress," is expected some time in 2007--and exactly when, Novell is not saying. OES 2 will include a number of tweaks, some of which are dependent on the first Service Pack for Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10.
Interestingly, SLES 10 SP1 was originally expected at the end of 2006, and would include support for Windows, NetWare, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux guest operating systems within SLES 10 that is running the open source Xen hypervisor from XenSource. Although Novell has made no official pronouncements this week about when SP1 would be delivered since SLES 10 was launched in July of this year, the fact that Novell is saying that OES 2 is tied to SLES 10 SP1 and will not be available until 2007 suggests that this SP1 update has been delayed.
Other documents from September outlining the weaving of Xen into SLES suggested that the support for NetWare as a guest platform would happen in the spring of 2007 as part of the Open Enterprise Server 2 launch. This same document--which came after Novell said in the summer that it expected SLES 10 SP1 to come out by year's end--said that SP1 would come out in the spring of next year as well. Whether or not Novell is still on this schedule is unclear, since Novell is not being precise with launch dates this week as it talks about the future OES 2. There are rumors that it might be mid- to late 2007 before OES 2 is launched. Hopefully it will not take that long.
A delay for SLES 10 SP1 would not be surprising, particularly if Xen needs more time to be hardened and also considering that Red Hat has pushed the delivery date for its future Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 out to February or March 2007 instead of the end of 2006. If Red Hat is taking extra time--for whatever reason--you can bet Novell is willing to take extra time, too, for whatever reasons it has.
While Novell is not talking dates for OES and SLES 10 SP1, what Novell is talking about, however, is a change in the way OES is delivered. Rather than have a different set of CDs and a different development tree for OES, Novell has decided to repackage OES as a set of extensions to the standard SLES 10 Linux. This is not a surprising development, and it actually makes sense. Doing it the other way just makes life harder.
For instance, Sun Microsystems effectively--or rather, ineffectively--forked its Solaris Unix implementation when it created Trusted Solaris back in the days of Solaris 8. At some point in that new version, Sun locked down the code and created the super-rugged Trusted Solaris variant. But then came enhancements to Solaris 8, then Solaris 9, and then Solaris 10, and there never were Trusted Solaris variants of these platforms because once you fork, you cannot get back into lockstep so easily. So, in a few weeks, Sun will launch Trusted Solaris Extensions to regular Solaris 10, which provide that same extra-security that the formerly separate version of Unix did. Ditto for the original SUSE Linux Openexchange Server, or SLOX, which was created by SUSE before it was acquired by Novell. SLOX was built on the initial release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, and was never really updated with service packs, and there never was a SUSE 9 variant. So figuring out how to patch it is something of a problem. Which is why the Open-Xchange project extracted the code from SUSE and created groupware that ride on top of, rather than is embedded within, SLES.
According to Troy Wild, product manager for OES at Novell, OES 2 will provide the same file system, iFolder, and iPrint services that OES 1 did, but will include other enhancements. The big one is the support for virtualized instances of NetWare 6.5 running on the Xen hypervisor. Some other NetWare services that didn't make it into OES 1, such as the archiving and versioning server and the DNS and DHCP capability provided by the eDirectory server, will be added with OES 2. The updated OES will also include Kerberos authentication for Windows-based PCs and workstations hooked into OES through eDirectory or Active Directory links, and it will also support a 64-bit client for Windows Vista machines that want to access OES services. Another new feature, which has not yet been named, performs what Wild calls file lifecycle management. This feature will allow system administrators to make sure the right files are on the right storage device in the network. As an example, it would allow an admin to move MP3 files created by end users off of expensive storage area network arrays to cheaper storage on the network without denying users access to these files.
OES 2 will also come with a full set of NetWare 6.5 CDs for customers who still want to use NetWare as it is. OES 2 will also snap into the Open Workgroup Suite, which Novell announced as a bundled offering in May 2006 to better compete against Microsoft's Windows and server stack. Open Workgroup Suite combines OES, its GroupWise groupware, its ZenWorks systems management tools, its SUSE Linux Desktop, and the Novell version of the OpenOffice office automation suite.
Wild also says that Novell is getting its partners lined up to support OES 2 with antivirus and archiving software--something that it "struggled with" for OES 1. Specifically, CA, Commvault, Symantec, Syncsort are working to get their data archiving software to work with OES 2--which should not be all that difficult, since it is really SLES 10 under the covers. Moreover, McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro are all working to put their antivirus software on the future OES 2 as well.
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