Microsoft Promises More Interoperability,
Support"> Microsoft will also use LinuxWorld to announce the availability of virtual machine add-ins for Linux, which until now have been beta tested only by a closed group of Linux customers. "This will let customers have greater usability for Linux-based virtual machines running on top of Virtual Server. It is a really broad effort from Microsoft to foster interoperability, and is based on customer feedback. This is a big step in that direction," Ni said.Microsoft is demonstrating the software at LinuxWorld, at AMDs booth, running a Red Hat guest operating system within Virtual Server 2005 R2. Microsoft is also introducing a new 24/7 technical product support model for Linux guest operating systems running on Virtual Server 2005 R2, which will be covered under existing Microsoft support contracts. People needing that support will be routed to a technical team at Wipro Technologies, based in Bangalore, India. The Wipro team has domain expertise in Linux and in troubleshooting Linux guests running on Virtual Server, Ni said. As a result, Microsoft will now support the following Enterprise Linux distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1 (Update 6); Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 (Update 6); Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9. Standard distributions supported include Red Hat Linux 7.3, 9.0, 9.2, 9.3 and 10.0. Microsoft will also use LinuxWorld to announce that more than 45 vendors have signed the royalty-free license of its VHD virtualization file format since May 2005. New licensees include some of the top open virtualization vendors like XenSource, Virtual Iron and Softricity, as well as Brocade, Diskeeper, Fujitsu-Siemens and Network Appliance. "The VHD format is key, as it allows vendors to understand what the hard disk does, how you write to it and how it stores the virtual machines. It encapsulates the entire guest operating system and application stack in a single file, so understanding that file format lets them build better management and security products around it and translates into a great ecosystem for customers," Ni said. This news comes at the same time as VMware, of Palo Alto, Calif., uses LinuxWorld to announce that it is sharing, license-free, its core virtual machine format and specificationtechnology customers use to manage, patch, update and back up virtual environments. Dan Chu, VMwares senior director of developer and ISV products, said the move is just another step in the companys push to create a larger ecosystem around virtualization. Included in the companys virtual machine specifications are virtual disks, which are the containers for the disks used by the operating system running in a virtual machine. Microsofts Ni welcomed the VMware news, saying it was "great, and we certainly applaud them in their efforts to open up their standard as well," but he acknowledged that the two standards were incompatible. But Microsofts VHD agreement allows third parties to convert from its VHD to their own format as long as this is bidirectional, thereby allowing Microsofts and its customers tools to be able to understand the intricacies of the file format, he said. He also said Microsoft would welcome it if VMware would sign Microsofts licensing agreement and understand its file format, but was evasive as to whether Microsoft would sign a similar licensing agreement from VMware, saying this would ultimately depend on what Microsoft heard from customers. Ni also gave a road map for Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1, which has been pushed back. This is now scheduled for beta release in the second quarter of this year, with general availability likely in early 2007. SP1 will support the hardware virtualization capabilities developed by AMD and Intel. The service pack also will support Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service, providing better support for backup and disaster recovery, he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
These add-ins can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site and installed in Linux guest operating systems to improve interoperability with Virtual Server 2005 R2 and enhance guest and host synchronization, mouse and display drivers, and SCSI disk emulation, he said.