Red Hat, Microsoft: Love-Hate Relationship Goes Virtual

Hate is a strong word especially when you're in love. Consider the situation between Red Hat and Microsoft. During the Red Hat Summit in September, the open source company warned customers and channel partners not to get locked into Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud strategy. Fast forward to the present, and Red Hat and Microsoft are locked in a virtual hug. Here's the scoop.

Fact is, Red Hat and Microsoft need each other. Midsize and large businesses mix and match Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Windows Server in their data centers. And web hosts also have to mix and match Red Hat and Microsoft operating systems in order to appease a range of customer and VAR demands.

With those realities in mind, Red Hat and Microsoft today expanded their virtualization interoperability efforts. According to a press release, the completed certifications include:

* Validation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, using the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor, with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 guests.

* Certification of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 host with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 guests.

Sounds sweet. But watch for Red Hat and Microsoft to compete on a growing number of fronts. Plenty of pundits continue to consider Red Hat a pure "Linux" company. But in reality, that's no longer the case. In recent months, Red Hat has been connecting the dots between VARs and software vendors, and reorganized its channel program to include three areas of specialization:

* Platforms (translation: Red Hat Enterprise Linux)

* Infrastructure (translation: Red Hat JBoss middleware)

* and virtualization

No doubt, Red Hat will compete with Microsoft on all three fronts even as the two companies continue to cooperate in a number of areas.

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