Virtualization at Novell: An Intro


By Justin Steinman


Welcome to the Novell Virtualization blog, a new blog designed to facilitate an ongoing and open conversation between Novell and our customers, partners, developers and the broader community around one of the hottest topics in IT today – virtualization.

At Novell, we are pursuing a two-tiered virtualization strategy, as we are both a virtualization vendor and an operating system vendor. That makes the dynamics of our business somewhat complex at times, but always very interesting.

On the virtualization side of the house, we offer our customers the opportunity to run a Xen-based host, either as an integrated part of their operating system or as an embedded standalone hypervisor product. Novell offers the only Xen virtualization solution with complete support for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and 2008 guest operating systems. That means that if your Windows virtual machine runs into issues when it is running on the SUSE-Xen platform, then Microsoft will take your support call – without asking you to recreate the solution in a non-virtualized environment.

But we also realize that not every customer will choose to run Xen as their hypervisor, as there are these two other hypervisor companies out there by the names of Microsoft and VMware. If you choose one of those hypervisors, then you should know that we’ve endeavored to make SUSE Linux Enterprise into the “perfect guest” for those hypervisors. If you are running the VMware hypervisor, then you can run SLES as an optimzed virtual guest, thanks to the fact that we recently included the Virtual Machine Interface drivers in the SUSE Linux Enterprise kernel. And if you are one of those super-early adopters of Microsoft Hyper-V, then you should know that SUSE Linux Enterprise is the only Linux recommended by Microsoft to run as a guest on Hyper-V, and that we’ve optimized SUSE Linux Enterprise to be a first-class guest operating system on Hyper-V.

Now, there is more to virtualization than just a hypervisor – namely, the whole issue of management! Novell is unique in that we offer solutions for the management of both physical and virtual machines, from one single interface. Want to learn more? Then come back soon, as the next blogpost on this site will come from Richard Whitehead, the director of marketing for systems and resource management.

Till next time,


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  • darrenjthompson says:

    As an implimentor of your technologies in production I have to say I’m looking forward to better documentation.

    I have had to cobble together brainshare presentations and other web site sources to achieve the following:
    1. Creating a Heartbeat2 cluster.
    2. Configuring XEN and NIC Bonding.
    3. Integrating HB2 with DRBD, ISCSI & OCFS2
    4. managing SAN based storage for VM’ (I still have not got NPIV working).
    5. Running XEN VM’ on a HB2 cluster with live migrations etc.

    All of these things are achievable but the learning curve has been steep and I’m still not comfortable I have used “best practice”.

    If nothing else, simple “cool solution” examples would have made this process much easier.

    I have high hopes that this forum will be a vehicle to better documentation and “how to” guides.


  • rsilvey says:

    I have a new Dell PowerEdge 1950 and I am trying to build an XEN virtual Netware 6.5 sp7 server. I cannot get Netware to load on bare metal so I decided to go the vm route. I have tried and tried but cannot even get Netware to run as a vm on the 1950. Has anyone been successful at this? One of the big selling points of the vm and Netware is the fact that hardware is moving on and Netware is not. So sooner or later you will have to run it as a vm anyway. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  • peterbailey says:

    Physical (aka native, aka bare metal) Netware 6.5 SP7 is supported on PowerEdge 1950 (as well as 2950 and 2900), but you need to download updated NIC and PERC Netware drivers for the 1950 from and install them as part of the Netware 6.5 SP7 installation process.

    SLES10 64-bit (and thus also Virtualized Netware 6.5 SP7 and OES2) is certified/supported on all Dell servers, and has full Dell OpenManage systems management support.

    On currently shipping PowerEdge servers, one must use minimum SLES10-SP1 or higher to get all required server device drivers included in the OS. Re:Xen I’ve had it working with no problem, and it was formally validated prior to launch, so it’s likely a configuration issue. Agree with your comment that virtualized Netware gives you a longer support lifespan for Netware, and on any Dell server.

    Suggest you call Dell tech support and they can step you through the installation if necessary.

  • macleajb says:

    My experience has been very positive with OES2 Linux DomUs under XEN providing all the normal NetWare services.

    Not so much with NetWare 6.5sp7 paravirtualized. It’s the only NetWare I have been testing under XEN and we have had problems with Sybase db’s getting corrupted whenever they were shut down, and the instance just dieing with no explanation why. It will start back up fine though.

    Currently on a Dell 2950 with 20G or RAM we run 18 instances which include fully virtualized Windows, paravirtualized NetWare, paravirtualized Linux and fully virtualized Linux (an older OES). Everything that we moved to XEN resulted in equal or better performance for our clients. Some were previous VMware instances, some where on smaller Dell systems, and some were direct ports from their current hardware to XEN.

    The one big gotcha for us was a power outage that took down the hole Dell 2950. DomUs did not react well to the power outage :). Even needed Novell’s assistance to get the NDS repaired :(.

  • kchandra says:

    I read your comment about running Xen on a PE2950. I am having a lot of problem in loading the Xen kernel on a PE2950; with the regula kernel, things work fine; any suggestions? Are you running the 32 or 64 bit SLES?

  • macleajb says:

    I answered once but do not see it here, so I will go shorthand this time ;). 64bit. What is not working when you boot the XEN kernel? Newer 2950 then ours might have NIC driver issues that would require installing the driver separately perhaps.

  • hackintosh says:

    im going to purchase a new PowerEgde 2950 III. Below is the spec Quad Core x5450 Boardcom Extreme II 5708 SAS 6/iR integrated Riser with 3 PCIe Slots i wonder all the hardware will work fine wit Netware 6.5.7 ?? anyone know ??? i couldnt get answer from dell .

  • Anonymous says:

    We’re planning to deploy 20 guest machines on sles Xen.

    want to finalize the hardware requirement for above.

    Can you recommend me the best server brand for it(like DELL)?

  • ReedEmanuel says:

    We are pleased to hear Novell is maintaining an open stance with XEN, and providing integration opportunities with VMware and Hyper-V. We have many customers who (for one reason or another) have distributed environments with multiple hypervisors operating in separate locations; and they have had considerable difficulty getting these to interoperate. And, of course, running multiple virtualization solutions comes with a big performance hit.

    We are thinking about trying to utilize XEN as a “glue” to integrate these disparate virtualization implementations. Do you have any customers who have tried this in an enterprise (SAP, Oracle DBMS) production environment?


    Reed Emanuel
    Network Operations Support Manager
    Bogus Technologies, Inc.
    560 S. Winchester Blvd.
    San Jose, CA 95128
    (408) 259-2442

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