Microsoft/Novell open Windows/Linux interop lab

The initial focus will be around virtualization, management and identity federation.

Microsoft and Novell on Wednesday swung open the doors on their Windows/Linux interoperability lab and said its initial focus will be around three projects involving virtualization, management and identity federation.

The Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab is the by-product of the vendors' five-year partnership launched in November 2006 that promised interoperability between their platforms. The partnership also included a cross-patent licensing deal that raised the ire of many in the open source community.

The 2,500-square-foot research lab near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is staffed with five test engineers whose ranks are slated to expand to eight.

Tom Hanrahan, hired by Microsoft in June, will represent the Windows side of the agreement as Microsoft's director of Linux interoperability. He was most recently the director of engineering at the Linux Foundation.

Suzanne Forsberg, senior manager of software engineering and open platform solutions for Novell, will represent the Linux interests. Forsberg previously was the software director for Egenera, which develops a data center virtualization system.

The two are starting with three projects with the first being focused on virtualization.

The companies will ensure that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and Windows Server 2008 will run as guest operating systems on both the Microsoft and Novell hypervisor. In addition, the work will ensure that SLES runs on top of Windows Server Virtualization in a paravirtualized mode, which means the guest operating system is modified to work more closely with the underlying hardware and not just with the virtualized environment. Also, the two will make sure Windows Server 2008 runs in enlightened mode on top of Novell's Xen hypervisor. Enlightened mode is a Microsoft technology that allows the server to recognize when it is running on top of a hypervisor and then automatically take different avenues to access memory management and IO.

The second lab project will center on interoperability between Novell's ZenWorks management suite and Microsoft's System Center family of products to ensure those tools will work in environments where both operating systems are virtualized.

The work will focus around two management protocols based on the WS-Management Web services stack: open WS-Management, which is based on the C programming language, and open wiseman, a WS-Management implementation for Java SE 5.0+.

"You need system management so those virtualized workloads have consistent service level performance, maintenance patching and uptime," said Sam Ramj, director of platform technology strategy at Microsoft. "And layered on top of that, you need identity federation so you have the right people accessing the right apps at the right time with the right credentials."

Identity federation is the third project and will focus on ensuring that access rights can interoperate between Microsoft's Active Directory and Novell's eDirectory. The work there will hinge on the WS-Federation Web services protocol, Microsoft's Infocard technology, the Higgins project and Novell's Bandit project.

The lab's test engineering team will be integrated with development teams at both Novell and Microsoft that are working on products that fall into the lab's three project areas.

The lab will house more than 80 servers of varying architectures, a storage-area network and feature technology from Advanced Micro Devices, Intel, Dell and HP.

The pair eventually will invite independent software vendor's to test products and hopes to involve customers in proof-of-concept projects.

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