Microsoft Partners With The Xen of Linux


There was a time when running Linux on a Windows Server would have been
considered taboo by Microsoft. Times do change.


Microsoft is entering into a co-operative technology development deal with open
source virtualization vendor XenSource. The co-operative development
initiative aims to provide interoperability between Microsoft’s Windows
Server virtualization and the open source
Xen hypervisor
.


Xen is a popular open source virtualization technology that has benefited from IBM’s
input
, is currently included in Novell Enterprise
Linux 10
and set for inclusion in Red Hat
Enterprise Linux 5
and a future release of Sun
Solaris
. The joint Microsoft/XenSource development effort will add the
Windows Server “Longhorn” release to the list.


The partnership will enable Xen-enabled guest Linux operating systems to get
Microsoft technical support for interoperability issues. XenSource had
previously licensed Microsoft’s Virtual Hard Disk format as part of an
effort to provide interoperability with Microsoft virtualization tools.


According to Bill Hilf,
General Manager, Platform Strategy at Microsoft
, Microsoft and XenSource
are mutually committed to “two way interoperability”.


“Today, current Windows and Linux guests can run on the XenSource commercial
product XenEnterprise, which may be hosted on a Windows based server or a
Linux based server,” Hilf explained. “The new agreement we announced today
extends to native Xen-enabled guest portability and interoperability for the
future Windows Server Longhorn.”


Even though this effort is being done collaboratively by Microsoft and
XenSource, don’t expect the joint effort to yield an open source product.


“The resulting code will be made widely accessible via commercial license,”
Frank Artale, vice president of business development at XenSource said.
“It’s not the intent of this agreement for the technology resulting from
this agreement to become open source.”


That being the case, there are benefits to the open source Xen community as
well.


“The Xen community will benefit by having new reach into larger total
available market, a broader multi-OS market, now including Windows,” Atale
added.


Microsoft has been improving its overall virtualization efforts of late. In
May Microsoft bought
virtualization vendor Softricity
and is currently testing the Microsoft
System Center Virtual Machine Manager, codenamed “Carmine”.


Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005 R2 already provides Linux guest virtual
machine support. The deal with XenSource is not necessarily competitive with
Microsoft’s Virtual PC either.


“The reason we’re working together is customers continue to struggle with IT
cost and complexity,” Hilf said. “This announcement shows that Microsoft and
XenSource share a commitment to help customers with multi-OS environments
more easily adopt and benefit from virtualization.”


“This announcement is about Server virtualization, so not directly related
to Virtual PC.”

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