At its recent Brainshare user conference in Salt Lake City, Novell unveiled its new vision for system management.
Code-named Fossa, the project aims to tie together Novell products including identity management, IT management, virtualisation, compliance and Suse Linux Enterprise Server products to allow users to dynamically assign workloads to server resources within their datacentres. It will provide tighter integration between the services and offer new functionality.
The agile enterprise has long been considered the Valhalla of enterprise IT, because it will allow for a dramatic increase in server utilisation. Novell claims that as an infrastructure vendor, it is best positioned to deliver on this idea.
"We will transform the IT landscape with the introduction of the Fossa project," Jeff Jaffe, Novell's chief technology officer, said in a keynote presentation at the show. "Fossa is the next generation infrastructure that will manage IT with agility."
The system over time aims to automatically determine the best server to perform a task and allocate the required data in the storage system. Therefore it will be able to migrate tasks across both physical and virtual servers.
Products that are part of the Fossa project are scheduled for completion by 2012, said Jaffe. Novell plans to tap the open-source community to help develop the required products. It will actively engage in the development process to "prevent fragmentation and describe a roadmap", Jaffe said.
There also will be room for proprietary solutions, Jaffe said, especially in the management space. "There is an opportunity for proprietary differentiation, by Novell or anyone else."
Chris Ingle, research and consulting director covering systems for analyst firm IDC, cautioned that Novell should maintain its focus given its size and a recent series of acquisitions. "The question is: Does it make sense to push into a new area or does it make more sense to increase focus on current operations," Ingle says.
"They always have the habit of going into the most competitive spaces."
And where does the name of Novell's vision come from? The fossa is the largest carnivore on Madagascar. The animal is known for its agility, but also is an endangered species. Jaffe jokes that the name was also picked because the 'a' could be seen to refer to agility, as an expansion to the acronym for 'Free open-source software' (FOSS).