While KVM is not yet available as a stable solution in SLES, the Novell offering is comparable to the Red Hat offering. Novell virtualization is also based on the Xen hypervisor, with libvirt as the application programming interface, which offers access to management interfaces such as virsh, Virtual Machine Manager, and more. Apart from the standard technologies, Novell also offers the more advanced management solution PlateSpin Orchestrate, a versatile product that enables you to manage (or "orchestrate" in Novell terminology) virtual and physical resources from one interface. But this product is so complicated that you can't download it for a free test-drive and can order it only from Novell, which creates a custom technology based on the needs of the customer.
Creating virtual machines with Novell's technology is easy. On the installation of the SLES operating system, you indicate what you want to do: install a specific virtualization host or integrate the Xen virtualization software in an existing instance of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Both options create the same result, but some customers feel better when their virtualization host is a dedicated virtualization host.
After the installation of the host platform, you can create virtual machines right away. To do so, use the difficult but versatile virsh command line interface, or the graphical Virtual Machine Manager. In case you believe that this utility is available directly from the console of the host itself, that's not the case. Using an SSH connection you can start Virtual Machine Manager from anywhere in the network, as long as an SSH connection is available, it will just work (with PuTTY and a Window Manager like Xming combined it even runs from Windows).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sander van Vugt is an author and independent technical trainer, specializing in Linux since 1994. Vugt is also a technical consultant for high-availability clustering and performance optimization, as well as an expert on SLED 10 administration.
This was first published in January 2010