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Microsoft, Red Hat hypervisors are friends. The companies? Not so much

Cross-server, virtulization validation comes days after Red Hat petitioned the Supreme Court to nix all software patents

Microsoft and Red Hat have made good on their February promise to validate that their server operating systems will function properly on one another's hypervisors. Most reporters and pundits aptly note that this just made good business sense and in no way means the two frienemies will fall into each other's arms like best buds, like, for instance Microsoft and Novell.

One might think that Novell is and should be miffed about this. Didn't Microsoft promise its undying love to Novell in exchange for a bundle of Microsoft's cash, vouchers for Novell SUSE and a promise to not be sued over those nebulous Linux patent infringement matters and a bunch of joint development projects (like Moonlight, which brings the nobody-really-wants-it-Silverlight to Linux machines)? Didn't it have to endure the Linux and open source communities foaming at the mouth over such selling out? Thankfully for the enterprise, Microsoft isn't really a one-Linux-at-a-time kind of company, especially when it comes to allowing those Red Hat versions of Linux to run on a Windows Server 2008 hypervisor.

Specifically, the companies today announced that they have validated that Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will operate, and be supported on, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 using the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor. They also announced that they have validated Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4 to run on and be supported on, Hyper-V.

As noted, the two announced that they were joining each others virtualization certification programs back in February. So why did it take them until October before they gave the support ok to let each other's servers run on each others hypervisors? They were waiting for both companies to finish with their latest-greatest technologies ... Windows Server 2008 R2 (which will be released October 22 along with Windows 7) and Red Hat's new virtualization platform, based on the KVM hypervisor which Red Hat gained when it purchased KVM's maker Qumranet for $107 million about a year ago.

Red Hat users have also been waiting for the management tools for the KVM hypervisor. The product in question is RHEV Manager (RHEV-M), (here's a video that details RHEV Manager). It is currently being tested by customers, reports CNet's Gordon Haff.

Want to note, too, in all the coverage, the best line was had by The Register, who described today's news as,

"Microsoft and Red Hat have now consummated vows to love and cherish each other's operating systems on their corresponding hypervisors."

It sounds like the story line of a soap opera. Cue in announcer: Meanwhile, just a couple of days ago, Red Hat stepped up a formal challenge to get rid of Microsoft's Linux-patent-infringement claims once and for all -- and to do away with all the ridiculous litigation that stems from software patent-infringement claims altogether.  Red Hat ask the Supreme Court to completely nix software patents. Reports InformationWeek Government:

"Red Hat has filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to uphold a lower court's ruling that software isn't patentable. Red Hat is not a direct party but took a position against software patents in the case of Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw versus David Kappos, Undersecretary of Commerce and director of the U.S. Patent Office. The case is now before the Supreme Court. Rob Tiller, an assistant general counsel at Red Hat, filed the brief in what he said was a rare chance to attack the patent issue head-on."

Let's note that Red Hat isn't an innocent bystander when it comes to patents. The company earned or applied for 49 itself so far in 2009, according to Patents.com.

I'm the one that wrote "Software patent reform needed to stop legal bullying" so yes, I'm rooting that Red Hat's plea to the Supreme Court works, though I'm also not hopeful. Software patent reform is one of those endless debates, like health care, in which so much money is at stake, that no movement toward sanity seems possible.

In the meantime, the company that wanted to sue its competitors out of business (Microsoft) and the company that taught the world how to make a ton of money out of free software, (Red Hat) find their best interests are linked to one another.

The technical details on the validations that have been completed can be found here.

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