Monday, April 03, 2006

Microsoft to support Linux, virtually

I'm at the Forrester IT Forum 2006 in Las Vegas this week, blogging the conference. The first keynote this afternoon was by Andy Lees, a Microsoft VP in charge of server and tools marketing. Speaking at an incredibly fast pace, Lees is talking about what Microsoft is doing to increase IT productivity. One of his main points is to reduce the complexity of IT, which is of course a noble objective.

But there was one an interesting announcement that he made: Microsoft is going to start giving away its server virtualization technology (its Virtual Server 2005 R2 product), which allows one physical computer to run multiple instances of a “guest” operating system. The real kicker, though, is that Microsoft will not limit guest operating systems to its own products. It is also offering, at no-charge, virtual machine “add-ins” to run select Linux distributions, along with technical support to help customers consolidate Linux-based applications under Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Microsoft made this announcement here at Forrester's conference and, more significantly, at LinuxWorld in Boston today.

Some Linux fans will want to attribute some nefarious motive to Microsoft's support for Linux. But I think it's rather a sign that Linux is a fact of life in many data centers and that Microsoft is better off being part of the solution to Linux support rather than pretend it doesn't exist. Whether system administrators will want to let Linux run on top of Microsoft’s Virtual Server is another issue, of course.

There are more details in a Q&A document on the Microsoft website.

Coincidentally, I’m currently running a Computer Economics Quick Poll on the virtues of Linux and Microsoft server operating systems. If you’d like to participate and receive a free copy of the analysis resulting from this survey, you can take the survey now.

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