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Microsoft's Hyper-V Linux Integration Components, which include synthetic network and storage drivers for optimised Hyper-V devices, were previously available only for Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). They now support Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4.
Generally speaking, most Hyper-V shops run only Windows operating systems, but that's bound to change over time -- a prospect that Microsoft seems to acknowledge with its Hyper-V Linux Integration Components.
All the vendors have gotten more accommodating about heterogeneity.
Barry Barnett, the senior systems engineer for real-time software developer OSIsoft LLC, oversees a Hyper-V environment for a team of developers. There is demand for Linux from overseas offices in Europe, he said.
"In places like Germany, there's a larger foothold of Linux users, and they use a lot of Linux in the back office," he said. "Eventually I'll have to provide support for that."Heterogeneous data centres an increasing reality
Much as with VMware Tools, installing Linux Integration Components ensures that the operating system works correctly when virtualised. But they go only so far. Red Hat virtual machines running on Hyper-V are limited to a single virtual processor, limiting the size of the Linux workload. The components don't provide mouse support either, although there is a workaround available from Citrix Project Satori.
Hyper-V Linux Integration Components indicate that both Microsoft and Red Hat have come to terms with the reality of heterogeneous data centres and the need to work together, said Jonathan Eunice, a principal IT adviser at Illuminata Inc.
"All the vendors have gotten more accommodating about heterogeneity," he said. "The maturing of the business relationship between Red Hat and Microsoft -- that's the subtext of these announcements."
In July 2009, Microsoft submitted the Linux Integration Components to the upstream Linux kernel, and they will be included in future versions of RHEL, according to Hyper-V program manager Mike Sterling. In the meantime, Microsoft will provide full support for the components, which are available from the Microsoft Download Centre.