A virtualization deal struck Monday between Microsoft and Red Hat shows the growing need for vendors to ensure customers can get cross-platform support for applications running in virtualized environments.
Under the terms of the deal, outlined in blog posts by Microsoft Senior Open Source Community Manager Peter Galli and Microsoft Virtualization General Manager Mike Neil, both companies will validate and offer customer support for each other's OSes on their virtualization technologies.
Specifically, Microsoft will offer customer support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and 5.3 guests on all editions of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008. For its part, Red Hat will support customers running Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows 2000 Server SP4 and Windows Server 2008 guests on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technologies.
The companies also will offer cooperative technical support for customers running Windows Server on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Future versions of these products also will be validated under the company's agreement.
Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with open-source research firm RedMonk, said the deal underscores how even competitors have to cross party lines to support virtualization, which is becoming an integral part of data centers that, more often than not, include both Windows- and Linux-based servers.
Virtualization allows companies to cut costs in their IT environments by allowing more than one OS on a physical server by running software in virtualized containers. The technology allows a customer to run applications on both Linux and Windows on one piece of hardware.
O'Grady noted that support for enterprise applications still hinges on what OS an application is running on. “If you talk to application vendors, their support depends on an application platform,” he said. “They'll support the app on Windows, on RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), but that's as far as that goes.”
Because software can be running on one virtualized OS — RHEL, for instance — that runs physically on a server running another OS, such as Windows, it's important for customers to know that both Red Hat and Microsoft will support them in such a scenario, O'Grady said.
“If I'm running RHEL virtualized on top of Windows, I need to make sure I'm supported commercially on every step of the way,” he said. “Virtualization pushes the boundaries of support and requires that vendors work well and effectively together.”
There is no love lost between Microsoft and Red Hat, which have traded barbs for years as fierce competitors with fundamentally different views of how software should be developed and distributed. This may explain why the companies chose to unveil the pact — their most significant and public partnership to date — on Monday, a public holiday in the U.S. when many people had the day off from work. Companies typically will release news they hope will be overlooked by major news outlets on public holidays.