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Red Hat, Novell race to offer better Windows guest support, Windows Server 2008 virtualization support

Even as rival Novell celebrates an expanded technical collaboration with Microsoft, Red Hat has released a 5.1 update designed to make its Linux a better platform for virtualizing Linux and Windows workloads.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

Even as rival Novell celebrates an expanded technical collaboration with Microsoft, Red Hat has released a 5.1 update designed to make its Linux a better platform for virtualizing Linux and Windows workloads.

The software, released Wednesday, for instance, offers live migration and save/restore support for fully virtualized Linux and Windows guests. It also offers para-virtualized device drivers to improve performance of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3,4 and 5 guests and enhanced performance hikes for Windows XP, Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 beta guests, the Raleigh, N.C. company announced.

The update also offers improved graphical management tools, support for the updated Xen 3.1.0 hypervisor and improved serviceability. RHEL 5, with its first built-in Xen virtualization hypervisor, shipped on March 14.

ISV partner GroundWork said the new live migration features and support for Windows guests makes Red hat Enterprise Linux a far more mature platform for virtualization. “This means you can migrate a live application from one hardware platform running the Xen environment to another hardware platform without having to stop the application. This gives tremendous flexibility to the customer to fully utilize their resources,” said GroundWork Open Source's Senior Director of Product Management Bob McKee. “RHEL5.1 also adds additional support for some embedded features for the Intel Itanium2, and AMD Pacifica chipsets to give better virtualization performance for customers running on those chipsets."

Not surprisingly, Novell announced on Thursday the one year anniversary of its interoperability accord with Microsoft and reiterated a commitment from both companies to make their current and future virtualization technologies interoperable.

Novell said, for example, the two companies are working in their joint interoperability lab in Cambridge, Mass. to ensure interop of Novell’s current Xen-based SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Windows Server virtualization and Windows Server 2008 with Xen.

Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 isn't expected to ship until February.

With that, Microsoft plans to offer the first real beta of its "Viridian" virtualization hypervisor. The fully baked Viridian hypervisor -- which is supposed to be compatible with Xen -- is expected to ship six months after Windows server 2008. It's unclear the extent to which this Xen compatibility will benefit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1, which also is based on Xen. Seems obvious Novell's Linux will benefit more.

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