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Microsoft, Red Hat complete virtualization quid pro quo

The two OS vendors have made good on a promise to provide joint certification and support for their respective OSes and virtualization platforms.

The universe of certified and supported virtualization configurations expanded a bit this week, with Microsoft and Red Hat making good on a promise to test and certify their respective operating systems running on one another's virtualization platforms. Specifically, Microsoft Hyper-V now supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 as guests. And IT environments using Red Hat 5.4 and KVM can now run Windows Server 2003 and 2008 R2.

Support for Red Hat guests running on Hyper-V is a boon to Crutchfield Corp., an electronics retailer in Charlottesville, Va., said Roger Johnson, the team leader for the company's enterprise systems group.

"One of the setbacks [of Hyper-V] for us was the lack of full support for the Red Hat environment," Johnson said. Crutchfield is a largely Microsoft shop but has about a dozen dedicated Red Hat boxes running network management tools like Snort. "Now with the full support model, we'll be able to meet our immediate needs of business continuity and maintaining a limited physical footprint," he said.

With a total of 9 Hyper-V hosts so far, Johnson said he will also consider rolling out Hyper-V to some small retail locations that currently run their phone system on Linux. "They don't have a full data center out there. The biggest thing for us will be maintaining that small infrastructure."

Better late than never
For interested parties, the joint certification and support was a long time coming – it has been eight months since it was announced in February. Mike Evans, Red Hat's vice president for corporate development, said that was because this was the first time the two vendors have worked together on interoperability. "Neither company had done technical coordinated work with one another before," he said. "There was some getting used to the processes on both sides."

At the same time, "We wanted to sync testing with new versions of our products," Evans said. Red Hat RHEL 5.4 shipped last month and Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2, due later this month. Future certification and testing between the two companies should move faster now that the two companies are used to one another, he added.

But Evans warned customers not to expect to see any more certifications from Red Hat anytime soon, as Windows Server and RHEL make up 80% to 90% of the x86 server operating system market. And while Red Hat has a certification and support agreement to run RHEL on VMware, it is not supported on, say, Citrix XenServer. Nor should Red Hat customers expect to run Windows on its erstwhile Xen-based virtualization.

"Never say never," but "it's reasonably expensive to provide certification and support," Evans said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.

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