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Microsoft, Novell tout Windows/Linux interoperability lab

The facility arose from last year's controversial collaboration deal

By Todd R. Weiss
September 12, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc. today announced the opening of their joint new interoperability lab in Cambridge, Mass., 10 months after the two companies unveiled a collaboration deal that aims to make it easier to run Windows and Novell's SUSE Enterprise Linux together in corporate data centers.

The lab, first touted last fall by the companies, will provide a development facility where engineers from the two companies can work with customers and the open-source community to improve interoperability.

Under their collaboration deal they struck last November, Microsoft is supporting SUSE Linux on systems that run Windows to make it easier for users to incorporate both operating systems. As part of the deal, Microsoft is offering sales support for SUSE Linux and will also co-develop technologies with Novell.

Two of the lab's first projects will be to improve virtualization and systems management when the two operating systems are used together.

Tom Hanrahan, Microsoft's director of Linux interoperability, said that engineers will work on improving existing virtualization technologies, which often don't let the virtualized environment communicate with the hardware underneath the host operating system. Engineers are working on ways of letting Windows treat Linux drivers as if they were native Windows drivers, and vice versa, which would lead to better performance for graphics, disk input and output and more.

"The lab is open for business, and we are working on interoperability projects that we've heard are important from our customers," Hanrahan said.

Suzanne Forsberg, senior manager of open platform software engineering and interoperability lab manager at Novell, said the lab will also concentrate initially on developing standards-based systems management applications to allow IT administrators to more easily manage, patch, maintain and repair cross-platform operating system environments.

The 2,500-square-foot lab was completed in July and includes about 80 servers that are running Intel Corp. dual- and quad-core chips, as well as dual-core chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

So far, the lab has four engineers on staff, with another four to be hired by the end of the year, Hanrahan said. Other engineers from Microsoft and Novell facilities around the world will also work in the lab, he said.

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