VMware brings Suse Linux to newly launched cloud service

Users of Suse Linux can purchase a fully supported version of the OS directly from VMware by year's end

The newly launched VMware vCloud Hybrid Service will start offering a fully supported Suse Linux Enterprise Server by the end of the year, making it the first commercially supported Linux OS that the cloud service plans to offer.

"We have a lot of customers already running Suse Linux in their private data centers who are looking to move to public clouds. They will now be able to use the same tools that they use to manage their [private VMware] to manage their instances in the public VMware cloud," said Frank Rego, Suse's VMware alliance manager.

Suse announced the pending offer at VMware's VMworld annual user conference, being held this week in San Francisco.

On Monday at the conference, VMware formally launched its vCloud Hybrid Service, an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) that the company announced in May.

Customers of VMware's cloud service will be able to purchase, from VMware, a monthly support subscription for Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). The subscription will provide patches and updates for the OS.

The advantage that the vCloud Hybrid Service will offer Suse users is ease of shifting their Suse instances between in-house and the hosted service, Rego said. Because both the cloud and on-premise instances will run on VMware's ESX hypervisor, they both can be managed from the VMware vCenter and vCloud management consoles.

"From a VMware customer perspective, there are a lot of benefits to the VMware hybrid cloud. You can use the same tools to manage your private VMware cloud and your public VMware cloud," Rego said.

SLES will be available on the vCloud Hybrid Service Marketplace, a portal that offers software that can be run on the VMware cloud. The marketplace also lists free versions of two other Linux distributions as well: CentOS (which is a free build of Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Canonical's Ubuntu Server.

Ubuntu Server users that subscribe to Canonical's Ubuntu Advantage support program can apply their licenses to instances of Ubuntu running on the vCloud Hybrid Service.

Suse Linux plans to offer a similar agreement, where subscription holders can apply their licenses that they acquired from Suse to Suse Linux instances in the VMware cloud. The company has not finalized this option as of press time however.

VMware has been trying to influence software vendors to reword their licenses so that their customers can use existing licenses to run copies of software on a cloud service.

For instance, Microsoft plans to allow its customers to bring their own enterprise licenses to the VMware cloud, at least for SQL Server, SharePoint Server, Exchange Server and Lync Server.

Windows Server 2008 licenses, however, still need to be purchased separately to run on the VMware cloud.

Suse and VMware have been working together at least since 2010, when Suse was part of Novell, Rego said. Reportedly, VMware even considered purchasing Suse from Novell in 2010.

That deal never materialized -- Attachmate later purchased Novell and separated Suse from Novell as its own business unit. But Suse Enterprise Server now comes bundled with vSphere virtual machine management console, with SLES' maintenance costs bundled into VMware's support agreement.

VMware vCloud Hybrid Service now runs on a data center located in Las Vegas and, beginning in September, two additional locations, Santa Clara, California, and Sterling, Virginia.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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