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Red Hat & Microsoft Sign Virtualization Interoperability Pact With No Patent Junk
Monday, February 16 2009 @ 11:38 AM EST

This is huge! Microsoft and Red Hat have signed a *patent-free* virtualization interoperability pact. Here's Red Hat's press release and some analysis by Matt Asay here.

Congratulations to Red Hat for refusing to buckle on this vital matter, and to Red Hat Legal for working out the details, and a tip of the hat to Microsoft, for facing reality and doing the right thing. And thank you, EU Commission, for creating a reality that makes it possible for the GPL to find a level playing field.

Asay:

Crucially, Red Hat's interoperability deal with Microsoft does not include any patent covenants, the ingredient that torpedoed Novell with the open-source community:
The agreements establish coordinated technical support for Microsoft and Red Hat's mutual customers using server virtualization, and the activities included in these agreements do not require the sharing of IP. Therefore, the agreements do not include any patent or open source licensing rights, and additionally contain no financial clauses, other than industry-standard certification/validation testing fees.
Red Hat has long argued that patents discussions only cloud true interoperability, which is best managed through open source and open standards....

What most people don't know is that Red Hat had been discussing interoperability initiatives with Microsoft for a year before Novell and Microsoft tied the knot, but Microsoft ultimately derailed the talks by trying to introduce a covenant not to sue over patents, similar to what it ended up negotiating with Novell. Red Hat rejected this unnecessary inclusion, left the bargaining table, and Microsoft connected with Novell to use interoperability as an excuse to attack open source.

Today, Red Hat and Microsoft have together demonstrated that interoperability can exist independent of back-room dealings over patents. Microsoft has increasingly been forced to open its stance on patents by the European Commission, anyway, proving Red Hat's resolute stance against patents was the right one. But today's announcement suggests that Microsoft is maturing in its views as to how to interact with open-source vendors.

It was Matthew Szulik who stood up to Ballmer, by the way, to his everlasting credit.

Here's a bit more from Mary Jo Foley, of ZDNet's All About Microsoft:

To be clear, the newly minted Microsoft-Red Hat partnership is not the same as the Microsoft-Novell one that Microsoft unveiled two years ago. There is no patent-protection clause that is part of the new Microsoft-Red Hat agreement, meaning Red Hat has not agreed to license any Microsoft patents in the name of guaranteeing its customers that Microsoft won’t sue them for possible patent infringement. No support certificates for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) will be sold by Microsoft, either.

As Galli explains on the Port 25 blog:

“(T)his agreement with Red Hat is specific to joint technical support for our mutual customers using server virtualization. So, in that regard, think of it as one dimensional, whereas Microsoft’s partnership with Novell is multi-dimensional.”
Multi-dimensional. That's putting it tactfully. You can watch the webcast if you don't mind registering and turning on Javascript, and here's the Red Hat press release and FAQ:

*********************************************

Red Hat and Microsoft Expand Server Virtualization Interoperability

In response to strong customer demand, Red Hat and Microsoft have signed reciprocal agreements to enable increased interoperability for the companies' virtualization platforms. Each company will join the other's virtualization validation/certification program and will provide technical support for their mutual server virtualization customers. Key components of the agreement:

  • Red Hat will validate Windows Server 2003 SP2, Windows 2000 Server SP42, and Windows Server 2008 guests on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technologies.
  • Microsoft will validate Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and 5.3 guests on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V (all editions) and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.
  • Once each company completes testing, customers with valid support agreements will receive cooperative technical support for:
    • running Windows Server operating system virtualized on Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, and
    • running Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.
  • Future versions of products from both companies are also planned to be validated under these agreements.
  • The agreements contain no patent or open source licensing components.
  • The agreements contain no financial clauses, other than industry-standard certification/validation testing fees.
FAQs

Is this a joint agreement between Red Hat and Microsoft?

It's not a joint agreement. Red Hat has signed an agreement to join Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program, while Microsoft has joined Red Hat's Virtualization Certification Program. Microsoft will be listed in the Red Hat Hardware Certification List once it has completed the Red Hat certification process.

It seems like customers should have had this type of support some time ago. What took so long to provide customers with technical support?

Microsoft and Red Hat started hearing requests for bilateral validation soon after Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program went live in June 2008. Both companies quickly agreed to work together; finalizing the details around comprehensive, coordinated technical support has taken some time. As a result, customers will be able to confidently deploy Microsoft Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, virtualized on Microsoft and Red Hat hypervisors, knowing that the solutions will be supported by both companies.

Are there other components of the deal that have not been disclosed yet?

No. The agreements are specific to establishing coordinated technical support for our mutual customers using server virtualization. The agreements have nothing to do with patents, and there are no patent rights or other open source licensing rights implications provided under these agreements. The agreements contain no financial clauses other than test fees for industry-standard certification and validation.

While Microsoft and Red Hat continue to compete in the marketplace, customers have told us that technical support for server virtualization is an area where we must work together. Now we have agreements to test and coordinate technical support and provide customers with a new level of mutual support between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server for their heterogeneous IT environments.

What versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat Virtualization will be validated, to what versions of Windows and Hyper-V?

Validations are now getting underway, and are planned to be comprehensive. Each company is doing its respective validations separately, with the first results expected later this year.

As a participant in Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program, once Red Hat submits test logs indicating that Windows Server 2008 runs properly on the Red Hat Enterprise virtualization, the specific version of Red Hat used in the tests along with parameters of the virtual machine tested will be posted on Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program website. At that point customers can confidently deploy Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 SP2, or Windows 2000 Server SP4 and later and receive coordinated support.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux SVVP completion is planned for calendar H2 2009.

Microsoft currently plans to validate Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 as a guest on Windows Server Hyper-V. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V (all editions) and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 will now support uni-processor virtual machines running:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 (x86)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 (x64)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 (x86)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 (x64)

How do customers get support for the validated solutions? Who do they call? Customers with valid support agreements with both companies call either Microsoft or Red Hat to have their issues resolved. If the first vendor contacted cannot resolve the issue they will work with the other vendor to come to a resolution for the mutual customer.

What level of support agreement is required from Red Hat and Microsoft for a customer to receive support when running Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Windows or Windows on Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

Customers with current Microsoft support agreements for Windows Server 2008 will be entitled to obtain support under this agreement. Where an existing agreement is not in place, customers can identify their willingness to purchase 'per-call' support. Any customer with a valid Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription and using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 or 5.3 guests will be entitled to support under this agreement.

How do these agreements compare to agreements you both have with VMware and/or Citrix?

There is no change in Microsoft's or Red Hat's relationship with VMware. Note that both Windows Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux can be deployed on VMware ESX. Red Hat doesn't have any virtualization agreements with Citrix at this time. Both VMware and Citrix have product configurations that have been validated through the Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program. How do I find out what validations have been completed?

Validations will be posted to the respective Microsoft and Red Hat web sites:

  • http://www.redhat.com/rhel/compatibility/hardware/
  • http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/svvp.aspx
Who will be the primary beneficiary of this agreement? The primary beneficiary of this agreement will be Microsoft and Red Hat customers. Of course, a secondary beneficiary will be the virtualization ecosystem because it will be more useful to customers, leading to wider deployments and faster technology development.

  


Red Hat & Microsoft Sign Virtualization Interoperability Pact With No Patent Junk | 62 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Off Topic Stuff
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 11:57 AM EST
Interesting contributions welcome.

---
Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For
Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Discussion
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 11:58 AM EST
Please give a link to the news item.

---
Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For
Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 12:00 PM EST
Should any be required. Please give a clue in the title, if feasible.

---
Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For
Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

Red Hat & Microsoft Sign Virtualization Interoperability Pact With No Patent Junk
Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 12:32 PM EST
I suppose this is kudos to Red Hat's market share, as well as their steadfast
stance vs the Monopoly. A nice validation, I think.

---
Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For
Themselves

[ Reply to This | # ]

    I'll believe it when I see it
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 01:04 PM EST
    So people will be able to run Red Hat under a Microsoft hypervisor... What
    about the opposite? Will Microsoft be supporting the use of Windows 7 under a
    Red Hat hypervisor? (I only identify 7 because they're dropping XP, and Vista
    is unpopular.)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Pointed
    Authored by: DaveJakeman on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 02:03 PM EST
    • The agreements contain no patent or open source licensing components.
    • The agreements contain no financial clauses, other than industry-standard certification/validation testing fees.
    [Red Hat's italics]

    Red Hat don't mention Novell by name, but leave you in no doubt as to what they think of the Novell/Microsoft arrangement.

    ---
    Monopolistic Ignominious Corporation Requiring Office $tandard Only For Themselves

    [ Reply to This | # ]

      I smell a trap, but I admit it is not based on patents.
      Authored by: PolR on Monday, February 16 2009 @ 07:35 PM EST
      Maybe I missed something. I see a bilateral commitment to validate the
      respective OSes on the other guy VM. I don't see the obligation of result. I
      mean I don't see what happens if the validation process shows the OS doesn't run
      with the other guy VM.

      I have no doubt that Red Hat will be busy fixing the problems on their side. How
      about Microsoft? Will they be happy to say "sorry, it doesn't work"?
      Will they be happy to keep Windows on Red Hat virtualization in vaporware status
      just to make sure Red Hat doesn't walk out the deal?

      Why wouldn't Microsoft want an asymmetric relationship where Red Hat runs on
      their VM but Windows doesn't run on Red Hat's VM? This would ensure that
      customers that run both Windows and Red Hat will prefer Microsoft's
      virtualization over Red Hat's. The vaporware approach would do the trick. And
      once Red Hat customers start relying on Microsoft virtualization, it will be
      difficult for Red Hat to cut out that support. They will be hooked even if they
      think they have been had.

      I think Microsoft really want the virtualization market for themselves. They
      believe in the future of cloud computing. The large data centers with lots of
      servers for cloud applications run blade servers to save on space, HVAC and
      power. When you purchase blade servers, they don't come bundled with OSes like
      other computers do. They come with virtualization as the bundled software. The
      OS is supplied separately and it managed and loaded by the bundled
      virtualization management layer. The stakes are who will control the software
      that will be bundled with the blade hardware. This control may eventually
      percolate into a control of the software that runs on the Internet servers, at
      least at large server farms that rely on blades.

      Perhaps I wear my tin foil too tight, but I have such a hard time believing
      Microsoft is playing fair.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      Scratching my head?
      Authored by: amster69 on Tuesday, February 17 2009 @ 05:40 AM EST
      I just don't get it so what am I missing? I mean, why would anybody consider
      running a Linux guest OS on a M$ host? That's just crazy - isn't it?

      Bob

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      But why do they need an agreement?
      Authored by: kh on Tuesday, February 17 2009 @ 03:34 PM EST
      Open Source can get interoperability without pacts. Microsoft could make their software interoperable with others if they wanted to.

      [ Reply to This | # ]

      The Reason you need Certification.
      Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, February 18 2009 @ 05:52 PM EST
      MS are saying that the Windows Server 2003 OS that you are running as a guest
      under a Redhat OS qualifies for support (once they follow through on this).

      This is a *Big* deal.

      This is needed as otherwise when you put your project proposal together you cant
      get sign-off, as if any thing goes wrong who does your client go to for
      support?
      e.g
      If an application on the Windows Server 2003 box is playing up and you go to MS
      for support they may say that this is outside of your support contract and you
      are on your own.

      The same is true the other way around...

      But I would still say the biggest win here is for Redhat so what gives?

      I think MS are willing to go for it because of their weak position relative to
      VMWare.

      For their VM product to have credibility MS need Redhat support.

      Still a big win for Redhat and it looks like MS is getting soft in its old
      age...

      ...saying which the last time I had a similar thought I found out later that
      their hand had been forced by the EU Commission...





      ---
      RMS: The 4 Freedoms
      0 run the program for any purpose
      1 study the source code and change it
      2 make copies and distribute them
      3 publish modified versions

      [ Reply to This | # ]

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