Microsoft-Novell partnership yields virtualisation bundle

Microsoft-Novell partnership yields virtualisation bundle

Microsoft and Novell have configured and optimised Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to run as a guest operating system on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. The product is the first to include technology developed by both vendors at the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab they opened just over a year ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dell has said it will offer a blade server running the Linux-Windows virtualisation software, and is just one of a number of channel partners stepping up to offer support. The others are systems integrators Computer Integrated Services Company of New York, Continental Resources, Insight, Total Tec Systems, and China-based 21Vianet.

Microsoft and Novell opened their Windows-Linux interoperability lab in September 2007 with an initial focus on three projects: virtualisation, management and identity federation.

Experts say user interest in integration of virtualisation wares is growing, but actual use is far from a tidal wave.

"I think it is still too soon in terms of this [interoperability work] getting out to customers," says Jay Lyman, an analyst with the 451 Group. He doesn't doubt that Microsoft and Novell are responding to user needs, because he sees that most users have mixed environments. The vendors, he says, are ahead of the curve, however.

On some level, the vendors agree.

At a virtualisation launch event Sept. 8, Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business, said, "It is still early days. Only about 12% of servers are virtualised." He also said that Microsoft foresees a future world where virtualisation is the norm: "It will be used across all the servers and desktops in a business," he said.

Analyst Lyman would like to see a few more case studies now. "We would be interested to hear a bit more about the demand and how it is transferring to the mainstream market," he says. "We continue to ask who these customers are and what is driving their demand."

Microsoft last month said "customer demand" was driving it to spend as much as another $100 million to purchase certificates it will distribute to users, who can cash them in for support on their Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Servers. The partners involved in supporting the pair's new virtualisation bundle will help distribute those certificates.

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