More on the Microsoft/Novell Agreement

On November 2, 2006, Microsoft and Novell announced their plan to collaborate on Windows and Linux interoperability and support. Specifically, their agreement focuses on four areas: virtualization, Web services for managing physical and virtual servers, directory and identity interoperability, and document format compatibility. (For the official Microsoft announcement, go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/nov06/11-02MSNovellPR.mspx.)

Microsoft and Novell have outlined more details for their plan to collaborate in these four areas. (For this official announcement, go to http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2007/feb07/02-12RoadmapPR.mspx.) David Bermingham, Director of Product Management for SteelEye Technology, shared his opinions with our editors regarding the companies’ latest announcement. SteelEye Technology provides IT solutions for business continuity and disaster recovery across Windows and Linux physical and virtual servers.

Microsoft and Novell’s virtualization agreement entails an offering for Windows Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) to consolidate server workloads in heterogeneous data centers. Customers will be able to host SLES 10 as a virtualized guest on an upcoming Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 Release 2 (R2) service pack and as an enlightened guest on Windows Longhorn Server. In addition, customers will be able to use Linux’s embedded Xen virtualization technology to host Longhorn Server as a paravirtualized guest on SLES 10. David Bermingham notes that this coupling is aimed at taking on the market leader in this space: VMware.

In the Web services management area, Novell is working with open-source developers to provide an open-source implementation of the WS-Management specification that Microsoft helped develop. In the past, Microsoft offered limited options for managing anything other than Windows OSs.

Microsoft and Novell are also working on improving directory and identity interoperability between Active Directory (AD) and Novell eDirectory. However, all that Microsoft promises right now is “a series of interoperability demonstrations” and “a more detailed road map for this collaborative effort,” both to come. Bermingham finds that part of the recent announcement vague and notes that this important task must be done right to ensure that whatever LDAP solution you choose, both Microsoft and Linux will support you. Better support between Microsoft and SUSE directory services will be a great selling feature for SUSE over Red Hat.

Microsoft and Novell are working to provide seamless interoperability between office productivity applications. The companies are cooperating to create an open-source bidirectional translator for documents between the OpenDocument Format (ODF), which OpenOffice.org supports, and Open XML, which is Microsoft Office’s default file format. Microsoft recently released the Open XML/ODF Translator for Microsoft Word 2007, Word 2003, and Word XP, and Novell will soon release an Open XML/ODF Translator for the Novell edition of OpenOffice.org. Both companies are working to extend this interoperability to spreadsheets and presentations. Bermingham notes that for Linux to take hold on the desktop, the interoperability will have to be as seamless as sharing documents between different versions of Microsoft Office.

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