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Red Hat and Microsoft Get Together in the Virtualization Arena

by Abel Avram on Mar 12, 2009 |

Red Hat has announced an agreement with Microsoft to support each other’s guests on their virtualization servers including coordinated technical support.

Mike Evans, Vice President at Red Hat, recognized that today’s enterprises tend to deploy real and virtual solutions in a heterogeneous environment “including mixed Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server environments”. This fact prompted Red Hat to strike a deal with Microsoft. The agreement means that:

  • Red Hat will validate Windows Server guests to be supported on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technologies.
  • Microsoft will validate Red Hat Enterprise Linux server guests to be supported on Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.
  • Once each company completes testing, customers with valid support agreements will receive coordinated technical support for running Windows Server operating system virtualized on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

Microsoft also admitted their customers are interested in Linux, according to Mike Neil, General Manager of Virtualization Strategy:

Customers are rapidly adopting Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and in doing so are interested in support for running more operating systems on Hyper-V in their virtualized environment, including those from Red Hat.

The agreement will certainly have a major impact on customers because an “IDC research shows that Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are two of the main operating environments deployed by enterprises, accounting for 80% of the x86 operating systems running on hypervisors”, according to Gary Chen, Research Manager at IDC. 

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Linux is Linux usually by totoro totoro

Microsoft already officially supports SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) from Novell for Hyper-V guests. Adding RHEL is not really much of an issue. It already runs fantastically, including Quick and Live Migrations (in HVS or 2008 Enterprise/Datacenter R2 Betas).

VM guests are going the VA (virtual appliance) direction. I would prefer to import from OVF regardless of virtual infrastructure platform. I wish that OVF could encapsulate more than one VM, or that something could. Enomaly used to support this (for Xen), but I think they dropped it. Converting between vdsk, VHD, vmdk, AMI, et al is really annoying - especially when you have to take into account EagerZeroed, Thin / Differencing disks, etc.

Support of JeOS ("juice") or rPath Builder based VMs is the preferred support I'd want in a virtual infrastructure platform, along with "vm-tools" which really should consist of drivers and only hooks to agentless management. Agent-based management of VM guests is a quality and security nightmare, in addition to being a reliability and scalability issue. Hypervisor introspection (e.g. VMsafe API, XenAccess) is a better way to go about agentless management of VM guests.

Since the Novell version of JeOS (there is also an Ubuntu based version) is based on SLES, then it has official support form both Microsoft and VMware in their virtual infrastructure platforms.

While I'm a long-time supporter of Xen, CentOS / RHEL, and VMware -- I must say that there is a significant advantage to running Novell JeOS based VAs on Microsoft's free Hyper-V Server R2 Beta (as opposed to anything other guest-type on VMware ESX or ESXi). Now if only there was a better tool to manage HVS... SCVMM leaves a lot to be desired.

What I'd like to see is Microsoft step-up to supporting Novell SLES and JeOS as VM guests in Hyper-V Server and/or Hyper-V Role along with SCVMM and PRO. PRO should be re-written to be agentless (and should work with Server 2003/2008, XP/Vista/7 as well as SLES/JeOS), Microsoft needs to add hypervisor introspection hooks (and hooks that are SLES/JeOS specific), and Microsoft also needs to start working on VNET integration with Cisco Nexus 1000v (VSMVA with CPVA).

All in all, I think Microsoft?Novell stands strong against VMware for hypervisor penetration, while Sun, VirtualIron, Citrix, and RedHat are required to invest quite a lot more in order to stay in the game. Does RedHat strengthen the Microsoft/Novell partnerships? Not really, but it's nice to hear that at least one more Linux OS is supported by Hyper-V.

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