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2/17/2009
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Red Hat, Microsoft To Cooperate On Virtualized Environments

The goal is to improve interoperability between their respective virtualization platforms so shared IT customers have more flexibility to craft solutions.

Deciding to put their heads together instead of butting them, archrivals Red Hat and Microsoft have signed a deal to improve interoperability between their respective virtualization platforms.

The deal calls for each company to join the other's virtualization validation program and to coordinate technical support for shared virtualization customers. The end goal is to give shared IT customers the flexibility to craft solutions made up of products from each company.

Comments from executives from each company appeared to express a spirit of greater cooperation.

"The IT world is a mixture of virtualized and nonvirtualized environments. We are looking to help our customers extend more rapidly into virtualized environments using Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server environments," said Mike Evans, VP in charge of corporate development.

"Customers are rapidly adopting Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and in doing so are interested in support for running more operating systems on Hyper-V in their virtualized environment, including those from Red Hat," explained Mike Neil, general manager of virtualization strategy at Microsoft.

The decision to work together, however, may not be completely altruistic. Customers have pressured the two companies to work together for some time. Some have indicated they would abandon one vendor in favor of the other if greater interoperability couldn't be achieved.

"As we edge closer to putting in virtualization [environments] here, I'm hardly interested in ripping out existing Linux products just because they won't work with newer Microsoft stuff. I hope they really follow through on this," said Matt Price, IT administrator with a large transportation company in Dallas.

There are real reasons why the two companies should work more closely together. Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are the two most popular operating environments deployed by enterprises, accounting for some 80% of the x86-based operating systems running on hypervisors, according to market researcher IDC.

"It is great to see two of the big platform vendors put aside their competitive differences and put the customer first," stated Gary Chen, research manager for enterprise virtualization software at IDC.

The agreement calls for Red Hat to validate Windows Server guests to work with Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technologies. In turn, Microsoft will validate guests under Red Hat Enterprise Linux server will work with Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

Once the companies complete their testing, users will receive the necessary coordinated technical support for running Windows Servers on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server.

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