Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (144 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] Closing the Candor Gap at Novell
  • From: Saill White <saill.white@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2006 13:02:12 -0800
  • Message-id: <455B8054.30503@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 11/15/2006 02:10 AM, Andreas Jaeger wrote:
> I'm glad to be at a company where we can discuss in an open
> environment. Be assured that we have discussions about the
> Microsoft/Novell deal on all levels. Just one example: last week Jeff
> Jaffe visited our offices in Nuernberg and Prague (this is where most
> of the development work for openSUSE happens) and discussed several
> hours with the complete team the whole deal in a very open discussion.
> I do believe that Jeff understands the issues. You might want to read
> his blog and comment there: ,


Thanks very much for your reply. I have great respect for your obvious sincerity and for your loyalty.

I have read Dr. Jaffe's blog, and to be honest I found it to be extremely confusing. It is difficult for me to believe that this is not intentional. The subject matter is not innately incomprehensible, but the writing makes it seem so. It is poorly organized and meandering. He states that he will address certain points, then he does so either unclearly or not at all. He uses a great many words to deliver very little relevant information. My first reaction on seeing something like this is normally to fall asleep. But you have inspired me to actually sit down with it and attempt to summarize its meaning. Luckily English is my first language, so it has only taken me hours rather than months.

If Dr. Jaffe's speaking style is anything like his writing style it's no wonder that you were all still deeply confused after several hours of "very open discussion". What a nightmare that must have been.

The upshot is that the blog contains very little relevant information and that once this information is extracted from the background noise it actually raises more questions than it answers. This particular entry only covers virtualization, not patents or Office document format interoperability which are touched on in a similarly uninformative manner in his earlier blog entries.

Below is my attempt at translating Mr. Jaffe's blog entry of November 7th into clear, relevant, informative English. I have summarized each section of the article using Dr. Jaffe's words and organizational structure, then "translated" each section by eliminating superfluous information and organizing what remains into a logical structure. I have inserted my comments and questions in parentheses throughout.

/* --------- Saill's attempt at making sense of Dr. Jaffe's Blog --------

1. a broad and industry transforming deal with numerous implications

2. benefits for open source

3. financial terms - very favorable for Novell

*** "Intro" - translation

This is a broad and industry deal with numerous implications, benefits for open source and favourable financial terms for Novell (putting these points in the intro implies that they will be addressed in the body of the blog)

"Purpose of the Deal"

1. Customer needs - environments must work together

2. Technology opportunities - deeply embedded virtualization

3. Server consolidation scenarios - (this should be a sub-point of point 1)

4. Openness (how is this title related to its sub-points?)
a. many customers run either all Windows or all Linux (yes, and many customers don't)
b. such customers are reluctant to support applications that only run on an unsupported operating systems (unsupported how? which OS is unsupported? Windows? Linux?, non-Novell Linux?)
c. With virtualization, we add choice. Windows shops can support Linux applications, virtualized on SLES – and vice versa. (Oh, ok, another subpoint of point 1, I guess)

Conclusion - Novell could not solve any of these problems convincingly and quickly without the collaboration of Microsoft. We will compete vigorously with Microsoft to push for Linux and Open Source rather than Windows (the use of the word "convincingly" is odd here, but ok...)

*** "Purpose of the Deal" - translation

1. Customers want environments to work together (they need good virtualization)
They want to consolidate servers (virtualization helps by allowing multiple OS's on one machine)
They want to be able to run the apps of one OS on another, ie, SLES virtualized on Windows running Linux apps.
2. Virtualization can be deeply embedded (hypervisor style virtualization like XEN has the ability to present platforms to the guest OS's that are tuned to present virtual hardware optimized to meet the specific requirements of the guest OS. This can result in great increased speed and stability. The more that is known about the guest, the better tuned the virtualization system can be.)

Conclusion: Novell needs MS collaboration to solve these problems convincingly and quickly.

(Ok, it's clear that MS collaboration would be nice. But the Open Source world is really good at back-engineering MS products, so I'd hardly say Novell "needs" this. Clearly if Microsoft helps Novell understand the details of its OS Novell can more quickly offer a virtualiztion platform that is well-tuned for XP or Vista or whatever as a guest OS. So that's great, but two questions arise:
1. What does Microsoft get out of it? The way Linux works is public knowledge. If you have the kernel sources all the documentation you need is right there, in plain text. If this is the heart of the deal, why is Microsoft paying Novell, not vice-versa?
2. How do Microsoft engineers help provide interoperability without revealing any source code? I picture this shiny new research center all full of engineers playing charades - the Novell engineers taking wild guesses at how various aspects of Vista work while the Microsoft engineers wildly pantomime clues. Then in five years, once Vista is humming along on Xen, the contract expires, the MS engineers stay up all night removing the "if 0"'s from the code, release VistaII, and the whole thing comes to a screeching halt. Ok, that's a wild fantasy, but still...)

"The Drumbeat around Virtualization" (no translation necessary)
1. Customers want vitualization and here's proof (ok, got it already)

"Different Forms of Virtualization"
1. Two types of virtualization - "full" and "para-"
2 MS/Novell collaboration helps full virtualization go faster and makes paravirtualization possible

*** "Different Forms of Virtualization" - translation
1. Two flavors of hypervisor virtualization, can be understood as "plain" and "optimized for specific guests".
2. With collaboration Novell will get Vista working on Xen faster and will also be able to optimize Xen for Vista better (This is covered above. Still, why are they paying Novell for this?)

"Novell’s Virtualization Solution"
1. Open Source - It's open source
2. Community - Those working on it include Novell and Red Hat, now Microsoft, AMD and Intel, Dell, HP, and IBM, ISVs, management companies, and start-ups.
3. Paravirtualization: Performance improved by exploiting hardware assists.
4. Server consolidation: Novell's virtualization allows this
5. Support of different operating systems: Novell's virtualization allows this

*** "Novell’s Virtualization Solution" - translation
.1 Novell is working together with the open source and hardware communities to provide an optimized virtualization solution that allows server consolidation (as any virtualization solution does) and supports lots of OS's (as any virtualization solution should).

*/ ---------- End sense-making attempt -------------

So the conclusion here is that Dr. Jaffe has used many, many words to tell us that interoperability through virtualization is a fabulous thing and that it's a Good Thing that Microsoft has agreed to help Novell out with it. Still, he has given us no real information about WHAT Microsoft will provide to assist with interoperablity, or about WHY Microsoft is paying Novell for the pleasure of lending said assistance.

If I were you guys, I'd ask him those questions.

Or maybe I'll ask him myself, as you suggest.


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