Microsoft, Novell Add Linux Support To Hyper-V

On Thursday, Novell took the wraps off a channel-friendly virtualization solution in which SuSe Enterprise Linux Server runs as an optimized guest on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, a move aimed squarely at companies with mixed Windows and Linux environments.

Brent Phillips, senior product manager for Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, hailed the news as a major milestone in the Microsoft-Novell relationship.

"We're finally to the point in the partnership where we're delivering technology and rolling it out. Customers have been taking advantage, and they're now realizing the value of the relationship," said Phillips.

First announced in November 2006, the interoperability agreement outlined closer collaboration between Microsoft and Novell in areas such as licensing, support, and joint research and development, all aimed at building bridges between Windows and Linux.

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Despite a considerable amount of industry skepticism after the pact was unveiled, Microsoft and Novell insists that they've built a solid relationship that spans the open source and proprietary worlds.

"We're seeing the two organizations working as one to solve customer problems. It's an engineering effort, and it has also been a challenge breaking down some of the barriers that have been there," said Joshua Dorfman, Novell's senior product marketing manager for Linux and Open Platform Solutions.

Monty O'Kelley, Microsoft's technical director of Legal and Corporate Affairs, said the joint development work has been particularly fruitful. "It has been great seeing Windows and Linux guys working together on the technology aspects of the work, having discussions and putting away sensitivities," said O'Kelley.

Building support for SuSe Linux into Hyper-V represents a significant step in the Microsoft-Novell relationships, said Jay Lyman, an analyst with 451 Group, a New York-based research firm.

"On the whole, customers are looking to manage Windows and Linux more efficiently, and both companies also benefit from focusing more on interoperability than intellectual property issues," said Lyman.

"Microsoft realizes Linux is going to be in the data center and that they will benefit from participating in that," added Lyman. "This allows them to have some positive active participation in Linux adoption."

However, Lyman noted that other enterprise Linux vendors are steadily improving their own cross platform support, with Red Hat supporting Active Directory, and Ubuntu doing the same through its Likewise Open authentication technology.

Elliot Adler, sales manager at New York City-based solution provider Computer Integrated Services, said Microsoft and Novell's commitment to interoperability hasn't always been crystal clear, but today's announcement shows a solid commitment to the cause.

"The challenge of open source forever has been support, and Microsoft is going right at it," said Adler. "SuSe is by far the most heavily supported open source platform out there, and this will enable companies to go much further with open source."