Red Hat has just announced a deal with MS for support of RHEL virtual machines on Windows Server and Windows virtual machines on RHEL . It seems that this deal won’t deliver anything before “calendar H2 2009” so nothing will immediately happen – but the amount of testing to get these things working correctly is significant.
Red Hat has stated that “the agreements contain no patent or open source licensing components” and “the agreements contain no financial clauses, other than industry-standard certification/validation testing fees” so it seems that there is nothing controversial in this. Of course that hasn’t stopped some people from getting worked up about it.
I think that this deal is a good thing. I have some clients who run CentOS and RHEL servers (that I installed and manage) as well as some Windows servers. Some of these clients have made decisions about the Windows servers that concern me (such as not using ECC RAM, RAID, or backups). It seems to me that if I was to use slightly more powerful hardware for the Linux servers I could run Windows virtual machines for those clients, manage all the backups at the block device level (without bothering the Windows sysadmins). This also has the potential to save the client some costs in terms of purchasing hardware and managing it.
When this deal with MS produces some results (maybe in 6 months time) I will recommend that some of my clients convert CentOS machines to RHEL to take advantage of it. If my clients take my advice in this regard then it will result in a small increase in revenue and market share for RHEL. So Red Hat’s action in this regard seems to be a good business decision for them. If my clients take my advice and allow me to use virtualisation to better protect their critical data that is on Windows servers then it will be a significant benefit for the users.