Microsoft, Novell Open Interoperability Lab

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.


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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.


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"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.


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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."


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