Red Hat and Microsoft, the erstwhile operating system rivals, are teaming up on a
virtualization interoperability deal between Microsoft’s Windows Server and Red Hat’s
Enterprise Linux. The arrangement marks a new level of cooperation between Windows and
The pact will enable Microsoft Windows Servers 2008 and 2003 to run as a supported,
guest virtualized operating system on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. On the other side Red
Hat Enterprise Linux 5 will now be a supported guest virtualized operating system on
Windows Server 2008.
The interoperability deal between Red Hat and Microsoft comes as the nascent market
for virtualization continues to grow and as customers increasingly ask for certified and
supported solutions among vendors. The new deal will provide a competitive offering to
Novell, VMware and Citrix’s XenSource, which all offer a varying degree of supported
interoperability between Windows and Linux servers running as virtualized guests.
Mike Evans, a vice president of corporate development at Red Hat, told reporters on
Monday that the lack of a fully certified and supported virtualized guest support between
Microsoft and Red Hat has inhibited customers from broad adoption of virtualization
“We’ve signed agreements for testing, validation and co-operative support for server
virtualization,” Evans said during a conference call. “They are straight-forward
agreements and there are no patent or licensing rights provided by these agreements.
There are no financial clauses other than the certification and validation testing
Evans stressed that the key to the deal was to enable customers to run Windows on Red
Hat and vice versa in a supported manner.
The arrangement between Red Hat and Microsoft on virtualization is different than the
a joint-interoperability pact Microsoft and Novell struck in 2006.
That deal covered joint efforts to further Windows and Linux interoperability and
included patent provisions. As of late 2008, Novell claimed that the Microsoft
interoperability deal was worth over $340 million. Microsoft’s deal with Red Hat is much
“You can think of the Red Hat agreement as more of a one dimensional agreement,” said
Mike Neil, general manager of virtualization strategy at Microsoft. “With Novell it was
more of a multi-dimensional agreement, where we have technical collaboration, patent
co-operation and business collaboration. The Red Hat agreement is focused primarily on
validation and support within the virtualized space.”
alleged that Linux and open source technologies infringes on over 200 Microsoft
patents. The Novell deal has a patent covenant that protects Novell’s SUSE Linux users
from any potential litigation. Red Hat has steadfastly refused over the years to enter
into a similar patent deal with Microsoft, even though Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has
claimed that Red Hat
In an interview with InternetNews.com, Evans explained that the latest pact is
designed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems running Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization
technology. (This isn’t the first time that Red Hat has been enabled for virtualized
Windows systems. VMware’s hypervisor currently supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux running
What the new deal does provide, according to Evans, is better testing and the ability
to support both the Red Hat and Microsoft technology environments. Part of the deal is to
provide support for customers whether running Windows on Red Hat Enterprise Linux or vice
“You call the first company that you think you have the problem with, and if it can’t
be solved, Microsoft or Red Hat will work with the other vendor to come to a resolution
for the mutual customer,” Evans explained.
From a technical point of view Evans does not see any particular challenges in
supporting Windows as a virtualized guest on Red Hat Enterprise Linux or vice versa.
“There are a number of customers running Windows on Red Hat Enterprise Linux today,”
Evan said. “The primary advantage of the new agreements is that they allow us to
formalize the testing support of these configurations.”
Article courtesy of InternetNews.com