Testing Linux in the

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-01-16 Print this article Print

Lab"> The lab tests various Linux distributions in its Virtual Server product line. It also tests Samba, the open-source SMB file server, in different scenarios, as well as management tools working across a cross-platform environment.
Lastly, the lab tests open-source applications that run on Windows and/or integrate with other Microsoft software.
"Our goal for doing all of this is pretty simple—we want our customers to have the best experience with our software regardless of environment," Hilf said. Hilf has managed many data center environments. While at IBM, he worked with customers on their enterprise architectures, and he said he is quite aware that mixed environments are a reality in the enterprise. Click here for the eWEEK Editorial Boards view on Microsoft and integration. "So we want to make sure, from an open-source software and Microsoft software perspective, that our customers are able to interoperate," Hilf said. "For example, we can manage our Linux and Unix servers in my lab with Microsoft management technologies, using tools like Microsoft Systems Management Server, Microsoft Operations Manager and Active Directory, along with partner software from Vintela and Centrify, to get rich interoperability scenarios," he said. These tools also provide seamless Active Directory integration with the labs Linux servers, and give the ability to deploy RPM patches as well as conduct remote inventories and monitor all of the Linux and Unix servers, Hilf said. But the lab is also an enormous resource for Microsoft staff. There are about 40 different versions of Linux and almost every major Unix and BSD version running on a wide variety of hardware architectures. "Counting both virtual and physical servers, its over 250," Hilf said. "We have a variety of ways people in Microsoft can experience these systems, probably the most common is a capability in Virtual Server 2005 that gives a user access to the system through a Web browser." One of the services the lab provides is a centralized and controlled way to give Microsoft employees a view into Linux and open-source software environments, not just features of a certain distribution but how a real world customer environment might be configured and operated. "For some of these scenarios we use regional distributions of Linux. For others, we use the bigger distributions, such as Red Hat. Using a wide variety of distributions this way also gives us the ability to see how they do and dont differentiate," Hilf said. The lab is also a sounding board and critic for the Microsoft product development teams. While Hilf admits he spends more time with the Windows Server product development teams than any of the others, he said that his resources are available to all of them. Hilf points to the Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, which entered a market space long dominated by Linux, as an example of how the Lab helped the product development teams. "The development team came to me to help them understand what the best of breed Linux cluster would look like in this space," Hilf said. "They also wanted to see what the existing products and solutions out there actually offered and how we could better integrate, automate and improve on that with our product," he said. Given that clustering is currently a Linux-dominated environment, it makes sense that the Lab team, with its experience in Unix and Linux, would sit down and tell the development team what tools they would need to achieve their goals. "We were really involved with that team, all the way through the process," Hilf said. 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 www.eweek.com.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel