Red Hat’s chief technology officer has maintained that an intellectual property agreement with Microsoft is not necessary for the company to enable interoperability between Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Brian Stevens told Computer Business Review that Novell has gained not technical advantage over Red Hat via its controversial deal with Microsoft when it comes to running Windows as a virtualized operating system on Linux.
Microsoft has said several times that it would like to repeat its interoperability and patent agreement with Red Hat, but Stevens maintained entering into such an agreement is unnecessary. You don’t need to for technical interoperability, he said.
To host Windows on top of RHEL, it already works, he added, noting that while Red Hat had been working on driver certification to improve the performance of Windows on RHEL, it was not necessary to enter into an interoperability agreement. To get the drivers to get the performance, you don’t need an IP relationship to do that, he said.
Asked whether Novell’s relationship with Microsoft had given the Linux rival an edge over Red Hat in terms of Windows interoperability, Stevens said: We haven’t really seen the barriers to what customers are asking us to do.
It is worth noting that Microsoft first demonstrated Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Windows using Virtual Server in April 2005, some 19 months before its interoperability agreement with Novell promised bi-directional virtualization support.
Meanwhile, Novell has insisted that it needed the intellectual property agreement with Microsoft to advance interoperability between Windows and Linux.
In order to deliver… the bidirectional virtualization between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell required sanctioned access to Microsoft’s code in order to develop open source interoperability without violating Microsoft’s intellectual property, Novell’s director of marketing for Linux and open platforms, Justin Steinman, told Computer Business Review in May.
Microsoft and Novell are working on three virtualization projects via the agreement: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 running as a virtualized guest on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1; SLES 10 support on the forthcoming Windows Server 2008 via Microsoft Viridian virtualization technology; and SLES 10 running Windows Server 2008 as a guest operating system via the Xen hypervisor.
While Microsoft has promised not to enter into subscription certificate distribution agreements with other Linux distributors to encourage the adoption of mixed virtual environments, it is able to strike similar technical interoperability deals around virtualization with other Linux vendors.
Red Hat’s Stevens insisted that will not be necessary, however. Since the GA release [of RHEL 5] we’ve done a lot of integration work with the expectation that before the end of the year we’ll deliver Windows interoperability on top of RHEL, he said.
Red Hat has resisted Microsoft’s overtures regarding an interoperability deal, although its JBoss division did join Microsoft’s Interop Vendor Alliance in February in order to strengthen the interoperability of its open source middleware with Microsoft technology.
Stevens said that arrangement was further proof that an intellectual property agreement is not necessary for interoperability. They don’t need a license to do that, he said.