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Red Hat, Microsoft Set Differences Aside To Compete With VMware

As things stood before Feb. 17, neither one of them would provide technical support for the other's operating system.
In effect, each has guaranteed the other that their respective operating systems will operate as expected when placed in a virtual machine on the opposing camp's host. If a customer has a problem running Red Hat Enterprise Linux on a Windows Server 2008 host, the customer can call Microsoft technical support. And if a Red Hat customer in the future has trouble running Windows under KVM, that customer can call Red Hat support.

"It's the first time we are running Microsoft's tests. It's the first time Microsoft is running Red Hat's tests," said Michael Evans, VP of corporate development at Red Hat.

Stevens said it was in the interest of Red Hat customers to be able to build and count on support for a multihypervisor environment. Linux and Windows are predominantly the servers being added to data centers; for them to fail to interoperate when it comes to virtualization imposes a hardship on their customers.

Whether Red Hat will support Windows Server under Xen is an open question. Unlike KVM, Xen is already supported in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Stevens said some of the world's largest Xen users are Red Hat customers. Open source Xen is not to be confused with Citrix XenServer, a proprietary product built on the open source code base. Stevens said Red Hat will talk to its Xen user customers and see if they want support for Windows Server as a guest. Most of them run Linux under Xen, he predicted.

If Xen stays off the road map, then how soon will KVM appear in Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Red Hat will answer that question next week, said Stevens. Until then, he wasn't at liberty to talk about it.

In previous discussions with Red Hat, spokesmen have said to expect KVM to be added to RHEL in the next version, 6.0, with no announced delivery date. RHEL is currently on Release 5.3. But that timetable may have been moved up as Red Hat watched the virtualization market heat up.

It purchased Qumranet, the Israeli company that originated KVM, last September for $107 million. Before being acquired, Qumranet's lead developer, Avi Kivity, submitted KVM to the Linux kernel development process. That process is independent of Red Hat and under the supervision of Linus Torvalds. He and his top lieutenant, Andrew Morton, OK'd the addition of KVM to the kernel in the fall of 2006. Red Hat Enterprise Linux stays several kernel updates behind for stability purposes. But Stevens repeated his "watch this space" recommendation as Red Hat tries to capitalize on its own investments in virtualization.

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