Microsoft to support Xen virtual machines on Windows Server Virtualization

Quoting from the Microsoft official announcement:

Microsoft Corp. and XenSource Inc. today announced they will cooperate on the development of technology to provide interoperability between Xen™-enabled Linux and the new Microsoft® Windows® hypervisor technology-based Windows Server® virtualization. With the resulting technology, the next version of Windows Server, code-named “Longhorn,” will provide customers with a flexible and powerful virtualization solution across their hardware infrastructure and operating system environments for cost-saving consolidation of Windows, Linux and Xen-enabled Linux distributions.

Microsoft anticipates providing a beta release of Windows Server virtualization by the end of 2006 and plans to release the solution to manufacturing (RTM) within 180 days of the RTM of Windows Server “Longhorn,” which is targeted for the end of 2007…

(if you missed what WSV is you probably would check the Windows Server Virtualization Q&A)

A document that absolutely worth to read is the FAQ XenSource prepared about this announcement. Among many interesting answers:

Q: How will customers access the technology?
A: The technology will be made widely available via commercial license.

Q: Will the code be commercially licensed code or open source code?
A: This will be commercially licensed code.

I read tens of articles about this announcement, with most dissimilar interpretations, from all major IT news portals. The most funny sounded like if you can’t beat them, ally with them.

What we really have here is Microsoft clearly trying to impose a de facto standard in server virtualization without adhering VMware standardization proposal, which would declare the competitor as a recognized market leader. Following this path it’s quite probable Windows Server Virtualization will be able to run VMware virtual machines as well.

One challenge in next years virtualized datacenters will be handle portability of virtual machines among hosting platforms. Offering Windows Server Virtualization for free and granting interoperability will greatly increase chances customers will evaluate Microsoft solution when it will be ready without fear to loose their investments.

VMware seems to back my interpretation since, while I’m writing, a new post appeared on The Console, the company management blog, where Brian Byun, Vice President of Products and Alliances, ironically highlighted some interesting aspects of the announcement and pushed once again the need for standardization.

It’s pretty rare VMware comments so fast and so directly a Microsoft move. It means something.

Update: While VMware slammed the agreement, HP publicly endorsed it, considering it a good thing for the whole industry.

Christine Martino, Vice President Open Source and Linux at HP, granted an interview to eWeek about this topic but refused to comment the VMware position.

There’s so much to read along the lines…

Second update: SWsoft added some very interesting details to the story which help figure out what’s going.