It wasn't that long ago that Microsoft and virtually any open-source organization wouldn't want to be found in the same room together, let alone collaborate on a project.
Times and attitudes-and the economy-have changed. Virtualization also has played a major role in leading to a new approach.
Red Hat, the world's largest enterprise Linux software provider, announced Feb. 16 that it has signed reciprocal agreements with Microsoft to enable better interoperability for both companies' virtualization platforms.
Microsoft and Red Hat will join each other's virtualization validation and certification programs and will provide coordinated technical support for their mutual server virtualization customers, Red Hat said. The two-way validations will enable customers to deploy heterogeneous Red Hat and Microsoft systems using Microsoft's Hyper-V and Red Hat's embedded hypervisor.
Enterprise customers are getting increasingly impatient with collections of data center software that don't work well together. Microsoft and Red Hat, despite their historically polarized positions on open source versus proprietary products, are finally heeding these wishes after years of stubborn independence.
As the result of the agreement, Red Hat and Microsoft customers will be able to run Microsoft Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtual servers on either host environment with configurations that will be tested, approved and supported by both companies.
Customers using buying power to facilitate change
RedMonk open-source analyst Stephen O'Grady said he believes customers' wishes outweigh any impact the current economic recession has had on decision-making like this.
"I would not attribute it to the economic climate, no. I think this is merely the latest evidence of a trend that customers-who are overwhelmingly heterogeneous in their infrastructures-are demanding that their vendors interoperate more effectively than they have been," O'Grady told eWEEK.
Sameer Dholakia, CEO of virtualization management provider VMLogix, told eWEEK he thinks it's "great" that Microsoft and Red Hat have come together in this manner.
"It's the old adage of keeping your enemies closer to you than your friends," Dholakia said. "IT providers are saying, 'The old ways are not going to work for us, so let's go arm in arm and go at this thing together, even though we don't normally go arm in arm on just about anything else.'"
From a customer perspective, Dholakia said, "You can ask basically any CIO, and he will tell you, 'Well, they had to do that.' The virtualization layer is becoming so integral to the IT infrastructure stack, that you just have to have that interoperability."
Gary Chen, research manager of Enterprise Virtualization Software at IDC, observed, "Physical hardware doesn't care what operating system is installed on top of it, and virtual hardware provided by a hypervisor should be no different."
Key components of the agreements are as follows:
- Red Hat will validate Windows Server guests to be supported on the Red Hat Enterprise virtualization layer.
- Microsoft will validate Red Hat Enterprise Linux server guests to be supported on Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.
- Once each company completes testing, customers with valid support agreements will receive coordinated technical support for running Windows Server operating system virtualized on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.