Microsoft and Red Hat sign virtualization pact

Microsoft and Red Hat have signed a deal to insure that their respective server operating systems will run on each other's hypervisors.

Microsoft and Red Hat have signed a deal to insure that their respective server operating systems will run on each other's hypervisors.

The deal, announced on February 16, has two components, according to a posting to Microsoft's Port 25 open-source blog. Red Hat has joined Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) and Microsoft has become a Red Hat partner for virtualization interoperability and support. According to Microsoft's Open Source Community Manager Peter Galli, Microsoft also will be added to the Red Hat Hardware Certification list once the Red Hat certification process is completed later this year.

To be clear, the newly minted Microsoft-Red Hat partnership is not the same as the Microsoft-Novell one that Microsoft unveiled two years ago. There is no patent-protection clause that is part of the new Microsoft-Red Hat agreement, meaning Red Hat has not agreed to license any Microsoft patents in the name of guaranteeing its customers that Microsoft won't sue them for possible patent infringement. No support certificates for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) will be sold by Microsoft, either.

As Galli explains on the Port 25 blog:

"(T)his agreement with Red Hat is specific to joint technical support for our mutual customers using server virtualization. So, in that regard, think of it as one dimensional, whereas Microsoft's partnership with Novell is multi-dimensional."

Red Hat was already part of the Microsoft-backed Interoperability Vendor Alliance -- a group of software and hardware vendors committed to improving interoperability with Microsoft systems on behalf of customers.

Update: Burton Group analyst Richard Jones notes one limitation of today's deal is Microsoft products are not certified as guests on Red Hat's Xen:

"But don’t go out and jump on this bandwagon just yet.  As of the announcement, the only support you will have is RHEL 5.2 and 5.3 on Windows 2008 Hyper-V.  You won’t have Microsoft products as guests on RHEL Xen.  This is because Red Hat is submitting its upcoming kernel virtual machine (KVM) based hypervisor product to the SVVP program; expecting certification later this year near the same time that Red Hat makes its KVM based hypervisor product commercially available.  Red Hat is not planning to submit its Xen based RHEL 5 product to the SVVP program. "

What's your take on the new Microsoft-Red Hat deal? Will it provide IT managers and customers with any additional peace of mind -- or have any other effects (intended or unintended) -- in your view?