Microsoft and Novell will enable virtualisation for each other's server operating systems as part of the companies' ongoing alliance to make Windows and Linux more interoperable.
Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 will let users host Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 as a virtualised guest, and the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, will have the ability to host Novell's Linux OS as an enlightened guest using built-in virtualisation technology.
In turn, Suse Linux Enterprise Sever 10, using Xen virtualisation technology that is embedded in the OS, will be able to host Longhorn as a paravirtualised guest.
Enlightenment and paravirtualisation are different terms that describe similar, but not identical, techniques to improve performance. An enlightened guest OS is modified to make it aware it's running on Windows Server virtualisation. A paravirtualised guest OS is modified to make it aware it's running on the Xen hypervisor.
A virtualised guest OS running on Virtual Server 2005 R2 does not require modifications to make it aware it's running in a virtual machine. Thus, it is not "enlightened" or "paravirtualised."
Longhorn, the long-awaited update to Windows Server, is due in the second half of 2007.
Virtualisation is just one of four key areas on which the companies have said they will focus their collaborative efforts this year. The other areas are web services-based network management, directory interoperability and document format interoperability.
In the web services-based management area, Microsoft and Novell say that they will both incorporate Web Services for Management (WS-Management) in their products to enable OS management through web services. Novell ZENworks Orchestrator and Microsoft System Centre Operations Manager 2007 will both support WS-Management this year.
WS-Management is a specification of a web services-based protocol for the management of servers, devices and applications. Microsoft, Intel., Dell. and other companies published the spec in 2005, and it was ratified by the Distributed Management Task Force for adoption as a preliminary standard in 2006.
Novell is also working to develop an open-source implementation of WS-Management, the company said.