While there is a lot of talk about the cloud as a deployment model for enterprise IT, actually building a cloud infrastructure remains a daunting task. That's where Novell is aiming to come in with its new Cloud Manager solution.
According to Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL), Cloud Manager enables enterprises to transform their IT assets into a service-based cloud model, providing for the creation, management and deployment of on-demand services to users of an enterprise private cloud.
"Novell Cloud manager allows you to define the interface between IT and the business," Ben Grubin, director of data center solutions at Novell, told InternetNews.com. "So you can say, 'Here is what IT can offer the business in terms of services.'"
Cloud Manager supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Xen virtualization hypervisors as well as both Linux and Windows operating systems for cloud workloads. The actual Cloud Manager Solution runs on top of Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).
But Grubin noted that Novell's Cloud Manager goes beyond being just a virtualization management solution. He said that while virtualization provides the pool of resources, Cloud Manager adds in the ability to meter services for a payment system as well as gives enterprise the ability to build self-service business services.
The move marks the latest effort by Novell to deliver tools and services for enterprises looking to understand and leverage the burgeoning cloud computing trend. Last month, Novell delivered a secure access solution for cloud applications and users.
But Novell's certainly far from the only major player in enterprise IT charting a course into the cloud. Virtualization giant VMware recently announced its own effort to manage private clouds as a service called vCloud Director, for instance. While Novell's newest offering may put it into a competitive position with VMware (NYSE: VMW) for private cloud management tools, Novell also partners with VMware on the operating system side, providing its SLES operating system as the basis for a number of VMware offerings.
And like many of its competing vendors, Novell has larger aspirations for its enterprise cloud technology. In particular, while Cloud Manager is now focused on the delivery and management of private clouds, public cloud functionality for hybrid deployments will likely be included in the future, the company said.
"Private cloud is a stepping stone to the public cloud," Grubin said. "The economics of the public cloud are really undeniable."
Still, Grubin noted that there are some challenges to public cloud adoption, including security and compliance. In his view, those challenges are currently limiting the viability of the public cloud for enterprise workload deployments.
He added that it's a better approach for enterprises to first build the tools and policies for a private cloud deployment so that they gain both familiarity and confidence with the model.
"Our roadmap for Cloud Manager will allow an enterprise in the future to federate with public clouds," Grubin said, explaining that Cloud Manager supports provisioning adapters for public cloud deployment. For example, Novell has already made an Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) cloud connector available as a technology preview to demonstrate its public-cloud provisioning capabilities.
"As enterprises build up their capabilities inside of their own firewalls, we'll be ready with a product to federate with whatever cloud providers are necessary," Grubin added.
Still, there's little immediate rush: According to Grubin, the market that Novell serves isn't currently asking for hybrid public/private cloud deployment technology.
"From an enterprise adoption point of view, none of our customers are asking for the ability to seamlessly move workloads from a private cloud to a public cloud because they don't have the private part done yet," Grubin said. "We've decided to focus on enterprise enablement technologies and the ability to build roles-based access control, a strong service catalogue, and a self-service portal that makes sense for enterprise users before we start building features that are essentially toys -- like provisioning to Amazon EC2."