Novell hypes new cloud computing plan

Virtual or cloud-based workloads should always be connected to identity and security management features no matter where in the enterprise they travel, according to Novell Canada chief Ross Chevalier.


This idea is the key message Novell Inc. wants IT managers to hear after the company announced its new “intelligent workload management” strategy on Monday. The plan will give users the ability to secure applications across a variety of different virtualization environments, including shops that use VMware Inc.Microsoft Corp. and Citrix Systems Inc. technologies.


Novell’s initiative includes a scheduled Q2 2010 release of Identity Manager 4, which the company says will add role-based access controls that allow for real-time provisioning of access based on a user’s identity.


The plan will also bring the Novell Cloud Security Service to virtual administrators next year, a new tool that will allow them to send out their identity and security management protocols to software-as-a-service providers.


“This is a significant update that will bring a greater level of proactive controls for how users get access to different systems,” Chevalier said, referring to both of these forthcoming products.


The workload — which according to Novell is a self-contained unit comprised of the OS, middleware and application — should act “almost like a ball” that IT administrators can pick up and move around with hardware independence, he added.


Also, under Novell’s plan, the workloads will have real-time monitoring and reporting features that safely automate the application and its compliance with IT policies.


An example of this functionality in practice would be a claim workload at a health insurance agency. Because the workload contains personal data from a client, it would intelligently act in accordance with IT policy and run the claim on the private cloud behind the firewall, as opposed being deployed on the company’s public cloud.


Chevalier said that when talking to Canadian CIOs and IT leaders, it’s apparent that tomorrow’s IT shops will be a mix of physical, virtual and cloud-based services. This means that the ability to shift to a more automated, policy-based approach will become increasingly important for Canadian companies expanding their virtual infrastructure.


Other aspects of the company’s new strategy include the planned Q1 2010 release of Novell’s SUSE Appliance Toolkit and future upgrades to its Platespin virtual management portfolio — which is expected to give users a single console for managing virtual and cloud-hosted workloads.


John Sloan, a research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said Novell’s roadmap is certainly the right direction for the company and it could play to their historical strength in the identity management space.


He added, however, that the company would face stiff competition from other virtualization and cloud giants such as VMware and IBM Corp. Sloan said the explosion of announcements around cloud management and security means that no one vendor has taken a lead in the market.


“But at this point, it’s been more of a land rush than a gold rush,” he said. “We’re not really sure how much gold there is yet.”


Gordon Haff, a principal analyst for Nashua, Nh.-based research firm Illuminata Inc., was slightly less optimistic about Novell overall. He said the biggest challenges for Novell’s plan include integrating these tools together and attracting companies outside of their existing customer base.


“Novell isn’t new to the management game in general,” he said. “ZENworks has been a big part of their strategy for years and Platespin workload management is well-regarded. What they’re a bit late to do though is pulling all the pieces together in the context of policy-based virtualization automation.”

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