Sun, Microsoft Come to Common Ground on Virtualization

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-09-08

Sun Microsystems and its longtime top-tier rival, Microsoft, continue to come to technological common ground that would have been impossible to imagine just two years ago.

At a daylong launch event in Bellevue, Wash., Sun and Microsoft announced new cross-platform virtualization initiatives Sept. 8 that validate Sun's new xVM virtualization platform to run on Windows servers 2008, 2003 and 2000.

Sun and Microsoft also are in the process of engineering compatibilities for Sun's Solaris operating system to run as a certified guest on Windows Server on Microsoft's Hyper-V, which is scheduled to be available with the Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2. Microsoft has not published a release date for this new service pack.

Finally, Sun is expanding its support for Microsoft enterprise software by providing Sun Ray thin-client customers the ability to access Windows as a guest operating system running on Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

Sun Microsystems last week released a new version of xVM VirtualBox, its open source desktop virtualization hypervisor, that competes in many of the same spaces as VMware's ESX, Citrix's Xen Server -- and even Microsoft's own Hyper V -- hypervisor.

"You can install and run several different operating systems on xVM," Steve Wilson, Sun's vice president of xVM, told me. "So it's very competitive with other hypervisors.
"We are now committed to offering interoperability with Microsoft's products, so that our mutual customers can run their choice of operating systems on any virtualization platform on Windows-compatible x64 servers from Sun," Wilson said.

Using this new interoperability, Sun Ray thin-client users will be able to run Hyper-V to host desktops originating on Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows XP Professional and display these desktops on Sun Ray thin-client devices over the network.

Later this fall, the Microsoft and Sun will integrate Sun xVM Ops Center with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager 2007, which will give enterprises the ability to update and manage Windows guest operating systems.

Using this capability, Sun server users will be able to run a single framework to manage their choice of operating systems from Solaris and Windows to Linux as well as monitor physical and virtual environments.

Sun is making key pieces of its virtualization software available for free download now via the new community.

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