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12/8/2009
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Novell Maps Workload Management For Cloud

The company charts a new path as it applies identity management and security to workloads run in the cloud.

A business processing workload used to be a set thing, an application configured to run on one server and expected to be there for years.

Novell has concluded that today's processing workloads need to be more mobile than that. They may run on a physical server, a virtual server or even outside the company's perimeter in the cloud, and they need management rules to move with them. Novell knows how to prepare computing workloads to be able to move about in that fashion, said CEO Ron Hovsepian.

"We have strength in identity management and security," said Hovsepian in an interview. Novell can package up a business application, its operating system, and middleware and combine it with embedded identity management and access controls. The resulting "intelligent workload" is ready to be taken from its accustomed server and run safely somewhere else, he said.

Novell has dubbed the process Intelligent Workload Management. With it, IT can "manage and optimize computing resources in a policy-driven, secure, and compliant manner across physical, virtual, and cloud environments," said the company's announcement Tuesday.

In rethinking its business plan, Hovsepian said, cloud computing was a "megatrend" that he felt matched up with the company's core competencies. Today, IT manages unprotected workloads from a management framework that can apply layers of protection. The goal is to get to intelligent workloads that have management elements built in.

Another way of saying that is that Novell is adopting the virtual appliance model pioneered by rPath and others that packages an application with its operating system for a specific target virtualized environment. Clouds typically run virtualized workloads, so virtual appliances are a way of preparing a business application for the cloud. A virtual appliance is an application combined with an optimized version of its operating system that moves over the Internet as a single file. It's typically in the virtualized file format that makes it ready to run at its destination. Novell has added identity management and embedded policies to the package.

Novell's Identity Manager will be upgraded next year to version 4.0 to supply identity management based on real time provisioning and roles management.

Novell is also capitalizing on the release of Suse Studio, released earlier this year. Suse Studio is an appliance building system that produces virtual appliances within a few minutes. Linux operating system expertise is needed to do so, because virtual appliance builders tend to strip away unneeded parts of the operating system. Hovsepian said Suse Studio has 40,000 registered users and has been used to produce 100,000 virtual appliances. It will be enhanced next year to add identity management and governing policies into the virtual appliances it produces.

Novell will release Suse Appliance Toolkit, a suite of tools to help improve deployment and maintenance of Linux-based virtual appliances in both physical and virtual environments. It will include the capability to apply updates, access management, and configuration management to virtual appliances.

It will also produce next year Novell Workshop, a tool to build intelligent workloads with embedded manageability, security, and compliance for both Linux and Windows applications.

"With intelligent workload management, customers will be able to take advantage of the cost, flexibility, and efficiencies offered by virtualization and cloud computing without having to compromise on security and control. The new world of IT is coming into focus -- and the future looks intelligent indeed," wrote John Dragoon, Novell chief marketing officer, in a blog posted Tuesday.

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