Microsoft, Red Hat kick off mixed virtualisation

The two companies have announced that their virtualisation products now support each other's operating systems, a move that could help both compete with VMware
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Microsoft and Red Hat have completed interoperability testing of their operating systems and virtualisation products, and have announced that now they both support mixed virtualisation environments.

The move was first announced in February, when the companies said they intended to validate and support Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) running on Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, as well as Windows Server running on RHEL using the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor. The completion of that process was revealed on Wednesday.

The rivals' co-operation is customer-driven, Red Hat product manager Geert Jansen told ZDNet UK at the IP Expo show in London on Thursday.

"Red Hat and Microsoft realised we can't live in a world where 'this is my full stack and you have to use it'," he said. "Customers want the freedom to choose their technology stacks."

However, Scott Herold, the lead virtualisation architect for Vizioncore — a firm that provides virtualisation management tools — believes that the move is designed to give Microsoft and Red Hat the "firepower to battle against some of the incumbents in virtualisation, such as Citrix and VMware".

Herold told ZDNet UK: "Independently, I think it would be difficult for [Microsoft and Red Hat] to gain market share." He suggested a battle is looming between companies that adopt different approaches to the relationship between the operating system and the hypervisor.

Citrix and VMware, which are the top hypervisor companies, are trying to remove dependency on the OS, while the top server OS companies — Microsoft and Red Hat — are trying to remove dependency on the hypervisor, Herold said.

The specific combinations that are jointly supported under Microsoft and Red Hat's arrangement are: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, using the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 guests; and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 host with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 guests.

Microsoft products certified on Windows Server, and Red Hat products certified on RHEL, are also supported.

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