Microsoft teams up for virtualisation with XenSource

Microsoft is teaming up with virtualisation open-source company XenSource to develop interoperability between their respective hypervisor products.

Microsoft teams up for virtualisation with XenSource

The collaboration will result in Xen-enabled Linux platforms being run on Microsoft’s virtualisation technology in the upcoming version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn.

Microsoft will also offer technical support for Xen-enabled Linux guest operating systems through its standard channels.

‘Microsoft’s commitment to customers is to build bridges across the industry with solutions that are interoperable by design,’ said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft.

This particular bridge appears to be carrying one-way traffic. Peter Levine, president and CEO of XenSource hinted at ‘additional products based on the collaboratively developed technology, further expanding the value of the relationship,’ but the main beneficiary appears to be Windows Server, with a beta implementing the XenSource technologies expected later this year.

What isn’t clear is whether Linux implementations of XenSource virtualisation will be able to run Microsoft platforms in anything other than an unmodified manner, rather than the performance-enhancing modified-, or para-, guest operating systems such as Xen-enabled Linux platforms.

XenSource has further ties with Microsoft in the virtualisation space as it previously licensed Microsoft’s virtual hard disk technology – essentially a virtual image of a hard disk that resides in a single file on the filesystem of the host OS.

Although available under a royalty-free licence, Simon Crosby, XenSource’s CTO told us that ‘VHD cannot be implemented in open source,’ but that ‘When Xen works with Red Hat, this can be sold as an addition.’

If this same issue prevents Linux vendors from getting the best out of Microsoft virtualisation platforms, it could be a divisive factor in customer decisions.

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