Novell has announced plans to acquire PlateSpin, a maker of tools to help companies adopt, extend and manage server virtualisation in the datacentre.

The US$205 million (£104 million) deal is expected to be finalised by 30 April and should give Novell the technology to help customers better manage and optimise heterogeneous physical and virtual servers in next-generation datacentres, it says.

Canadian PlateSpin generated more than $20 million in 2007 with its technology, which disconnects software from hardware and allows servers to be streamed over a network from any source to any destination.

Such capabilities, Novell says, will help its customers better manage workloads and optimise datacentre resources in any environment. "It is a cornerstone of Novell corporate strategy to help our customers work in a mixed environment," said Ron Hovsepian, Novell's president and CEO.

The PlateSpin deal follows Novell's acquisition of open source collaboration vendor SiteScape. Novell is yet to decide whether it will make PlateSpin's technology open source. The pending acquisition will also allow PlateSpin to couple its technology with Novell's Zenworks management, although each company's products will initially retain their own branding.

The acquisition should help Novell accomplish a much sought-after goal of heterogeneous management of multi-vendor virtualisation platforms. Last Autumn, VMware acquired Dunes Technologies to bring more management capabilities in-house, and Microsoft is expected to couple its virtualisation wares with management capabilities.

"It's going to be a big year for virtualisation, and there is an awful lot of money floating around the big players in the management market," says Rich Ptak of market research firm Ptak, Noel and Associates, citing such examples as BMC Software, CA, EMC, HP and IBM.

"The demand for platform-agnostic, heterogeneous virtual management is going to be there, and Microsoft is going to put a lot of pressure on the virtualisation market because it is beefing-up its management capabilities. Successful vendors have to make virtualisation accessible and make management a critical function that is easy to implement."