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Novell and Microsoft Deal -- Making Progress

Novell and Microsoft on Monday presented an update on the two firms' progress in their November deal to make nice and work more closely together.

In what many industry observers termed as "hell freezing over," the two companies jointly announced last fall that they would de-escalate legal and marketing battles between the two in order to provide customers with better services and offerings. (See "Microsoft's Novell Deal -- What's It All About," Nov. 3, 2006.)

Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft will offer its corporate customers a chance to license its Windows operating system as part of a package offering maintenance and support for Novell's SuSE Linux operating system.

Both companies also plan to improve the way Microsoft's Office desktop applications software and its open source competitor, OpenOffice, work together. And as a way to encourage corporate users to accept Novell's operating system, Microsoft officials promised not to assert its patent rights over any of its proprietary technology that might be intermixed with SuSE Linux or with code developed for OpenSuSE.

Microsoft and Novell are working together on four technology areas that address enterprise customers' problems including virtualization, Web services for managing physical and virtual servers, directory and identity interoperability, and document format compatibility.

In the area of virtualization collaboration, Novell and Microsoft said they are working on enabling customers to host SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 as a guest operating system on an upcoming service pack of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, set to be available in the second quarter.

They are also working to host SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 as a guest on Windows Server "Longhorn," using the Windows Server virtualization technology, which is scheduled to be available within 180 days of Longhorn's release.

Additionally, they are working to customize their systems to enable customers to host Longhorn as a paravirtualized guest on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, using the Xen virtualization technology embedded in the Linux operating system. Longhorn is currently scheduled to ship in the second half of 2007.

In the area of Web services, the two companies said they are working to jointly support the Web Services for Management (WS-Management) specification. The technology is designed to support the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) initiative to expose management resources via a set of Web services protocols.

Novell is working with the open source community to develop an open source implementation of the WS-Management specification. And Novell ZENworks Orchestrator and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 will incorporate WS-Management this year, the two firms said.

In the area of directory and identity interoperability, Microsoft and Novell said their goal is to improve access control for IT resources managed with either Novell's eDirectory or Microsoft's Active Directory. The companies are planning a series of demonstrations, but provided no further details -- saying they will provide a more detailed road map in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, in the area of document compatibility and exchange, last week Microsoft announced that an open source project it funded through SourceForge is shipping the Office Open XML/OpenDocument Format (ODF) Translator for Microsoft Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP. (See "ODF Add-in For Word 2007 Available," Feb. 6, 2007.)

Finally, later this month, Novell will release an Office Open XML/ODF translator for its own edition of OpenOffice.org.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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