Microsoft, Novell Open Interoperability Lab

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-09-12 Print this article Print

The first priority for the team is to ensure interoperability between virtualization technologies.

Microsoft and Novell on Sept. 12 will open their 2,500-square-foot interoperability lab in Cambridge, Mass., where technical experts from both companies will collaborate on technologies to help Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise work well together. The technical work between Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., and Novell, of Waltham, Mass., has already been under way for several months within the development teams at the companies, as part of their collaboration agreement announced last fall, Tom Hanrahan, Microsofts director of Linux interoperability, told eWEEK.
The lab will serve as an extension of these ongoing efforts and focus on the interoperability components of the overall product suites from both companies. It will have an eight-member full-time engineering staff, representing a balanced team of Microsoft and Novell engineers, he said.
But an expansion of the lab team will be considered as new projects arise and based on customer input and feedback, he said. Read here about the release of the first CTP for Windows Server Virtualization. Given all the customer buzz about virtualization, it is no surprise that the first priority for the lab team will be to ensure interoperability between Microsoft and Novell virtualization technologies. "This work will focus on optimizing Windows Server 2008 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server running as guest operating systems on both Microsofts and Novells virtualization technologies," Suzanne Forsberg, Novells senior manager of software engineering for open platform solutions, told eWEEK. Additional work will include standards-based systems management, identity federation and compatibility of office document formats, she said. But Forsberg declined to give any additional technical details or discuss future technical milestones, saying only that technical updates will be provided on an ongoing basis and more details will be released in the coming months. Asked what the technical challenges were around making Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise interoperability a reality for customers, Microsofts Hanrahan said there were two key areas in this regard. Read here about a Microsoft management application that will support VMware and Xen. "First, weve had to blend two very different development organizations whose methodologies are significantly different, and to work within both in the ways that they would expect. In other words, working with Novell in an open-source way and working with Microsoft in a proprietary manner," he said. Second, on the software development side, the teams are working with the interoperability components that have been developed for the products at each company. "For example, the software components that are being developed today for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to take advantage of Viridian enlightenment are unique pieces of software that the lab is responsible for testing. And the reverse is true as well. The extensions written to [open-source hypervisor] Xen to support enlightenment on Windows Server 2008 are also unique software that the lab is responsible for testing," Hanrahan said. The lab houses more than 80 servers of varying architectures, including Intel Xeon dual-core and quad-core hardware as well as Opteron dual-core technology from Advanced Micro Devices. It also has a storage area network with the capacity to hold terabytes of data and a Gig-E Internet connection. "This configuration effectively emulates the data center of the future," Hanrahan said. Register today for Ziff Davis Enterprises Sept. 20 Virtual Tradeshow: Virtualization: Taking Control, Managing Growth, Exploring Opportunities. The lab staff work will work on several projects at any given time, with virtualization, systems management and identity federation the first three projects being focused on. Going forward, the plan is to involve other software and hardware vendors in the labs development process. "To ensure full interoperability between Microsoft Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell, our long-term plans are to involve ISV and additional hardware vendors as part of the development process," Forsberg said. "At this time, the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab is focused on development testing, but in the future we may add additional capabilities for customers." As to the long-term plans for the lab, especially once the interoperability work between the two companies is done, Forsberg said there is a five-year agreement between the two firms, "and we will continue to evaluate the need for interoperability testing beyond this timeframe." Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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