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Microsoft, Red Hat Forge Virtualization Interoperability Pact

Deal is latest indication Microsoft is willing to work with open-source software competitors.

virtualization

Both companies trumpeted their accord, announced Monday, as easing the task for IT managers in mixed Windows-Linux environments. Under the reciprocal agreements, Red Hat and Microsoft customers will be able to run Microsoft Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtual servers within either host environment.

"Microsoft and Red Hat have competed for customers and partners for some time now and as platform vendors continue to compete in the marketplace," said Mike Neil, Microsoft general manager of virtualization, in a blog posting about the deal. "Yet our customers have told us that technical support for server virtualization is an area where we must work together."

He noted that approximately 80 percent of the primary guest virtualized operating systems running on x86-based servers come from Microsoft or Red Hat.

Microsoft and Red Hat will test and validate their server operating systems running on each other's hypervisors. Customers with support contracts would be able to run the validated configurations and receive joint technical support for running Windows Server on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technology and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology.

The two companies did not provide a specific timetable for when the configuration validation test results would be available other than to say the first results are expected later this year.

Red Hat and Microsoft have joined each other's virtualization validation and certification programs and the two companies will provide coordinated technical support for their mutual customers. Microsoft has become a Red Hat partner for virtualization interoperability and support while Red Hat has joined Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program, the companies said.

The two companies stressed that the agreement does not include any sharing of intellectual property, any patent or open-source licensing rights, and no financial clauses other than certification and validation testing fees.

That marks a significant change in approach for Microsoft, which has generally insisted that cross-licensing be a part of interoperability deals, such as with the controversial Microsoft-Novell Linux agreement struck in November 2006. More recently, Microsoft has been signaling that it's open to working with the open-source software community. Last July it donated $100,000 to the Apache Software Foundation and donated code to a foundation project.

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