Microsoft Signs Interoperability Deal with Open Source Developer Red Hat

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft and Red Hat recently signed an interoperability deal designed to please both Windows and Linux users. Red Hat, the largest corporate contributor to open source development, is a powerful ally for Microsoft due to their position as "the most trusted" Linux distribution vendor. (Source:

The two-part deal will maximize the potential for virtualization via each company's "hypervisors" (software that gives users the ability to run multiple operating systems on the same computer at once). It will also ensure that both Windows and Red Hat (Linux) software will be compatible with the other's virtualization platforms.

The deal involves certification from both sides: Red Hat has joined Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP), a customer support program to protect Windows users who are running virtualization on non-Microsoft software. Microsoft, as a "virtualization and interoperability" partner, will be added to Red Hat's list of Hardware Certification later in the year. (Source:

This means that both Red Hat and Microsoft users will be able to get technical support from either company for issues of virtualization. Peter Galli, open source community manager for Microsoft, has stated that this co-operative effort is "deeply significant" and that it will give customers of both companies greater confidence and support. (Source:

This new agreement is not the first time Microsoft and Red Hat have met in the open source world -- Red Hat had previously enrolled in the Interoperability Vendor Alliance, a Microsoft-led initiative designed to increase the functionality of diverse software applications. (Source:

Why Does Microsoft Need Another Open Source Ally?

In the past, Microsoft's name was synonymous with software -- internationally patented, trademarked, intellectual property software. It has only been in the last few years that Microsoft began to tip-toe towards open source development, and even then the software juggernaut seemed hesitant to get involved. Yet this year alone Microsoft has partnered with multiple open-source development companies, and has even created an entire corporate division dedicated to exploring the potential for open source. So what is causing this change in direction?

According to Peter Galli, the change appears to be fueled by consumer demand. As Galli states on the Port 25 Microsoft Open Source blog, "customers have asked us to work together on technical support for server virtualization." The new agreements between Microsoft and Red Hat "respond to that request by giving them a new level of integration." (Source:

Since open source has recently been touted as Microsoft's biggest form of competition, it seems more likely that these new alliances are entirely strategic. Whatever the motivation, Microsoft will earn a lot of brownie points with customers if it keeps moving towards open source integration. By making the right friends, Microsoft is bound to stay in style even if Red Hats eventually go out of fashion.

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