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Red Hat, Microsoft tie up interoperability deal

The two software giants sign a patent-free interoperability deal to tie up the competition in the virtualisation space.

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Red Hat and Microsoft have signed a deal to allow each other's operating systems (OS) run on the other's hypervisors.

The deal could potentially be seen as a way of the leading enterprise Linux distribution vendor and the Windows maker to squeeze the likes of virtualisation platform competitor, VMware.

But the once-bitter rivals have made sure this deal stops short of the intellectual property (IP), licensing and patent protection considerations of the deal Microsoft signed in November 2006 with Red Hat's parent company, Novell.

This deal allows Windows Server guests to be supported on Red Hat Enterprise virtualisation technologies. And vice versa, Microsoft will validate Red Hat Enterprise Linux server guests to be supported on its Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

They have also joined each other's virtualisation validation and certification programmes, with the first results expected later this year.

Mike Evans, vice president of corporate development at Red Hat, said it listened to its customers when they asked for interoperability between guest and host virtualisation solutions.

"The world of IT today is a mixture of virtualised and non-virtualised environments. Red Hat is looking to help our customers extend more rapidly into virtualised environments, including mixed Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server environments," he said.

IDC research said Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux were two of the main operating environments deployed by enterprises, accounting for 80 per cent of the x86 OS running on hypervisors.

Gary Chen, IDC enterprise virtualisation software research manager, said: "Most customers run heterogeneous networks and having interoperability between these two major platforms will make virtualising these environments much easier for enterprise customers."

Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst Quocirca told IT PRO Microsoft had acknowledged Red Hat as a strong competitor in this space. "It's best to know you enemy," he said, adding that "it seems like a very pragmatic move" on both vendors' parts.

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