Both companies said today that they would standardize on a single Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format as a common runtime environment for virtual operating systems and applications. The VHD specifies how a virtual machine hard disk is formatted.
In April 2006, Microsoft had inked a deal with XenSource Inc. for interoperability between both vendors' platforms. XenSource said it would use Microsoft's VHD format in its Xen 3.0 virtualization server. Citrix bought XenSource in late August.
But IT managers care less about the formats than about interoperability in general. So it will help that both companies are now taking their relationship to the next logical level, which is to create a single format, said Brian Madden, a Washington, D.C.-based independent consultant.
Microsoft also said it will adapt a future version of its SoftGrid Application Virtualization for its desktop and Terminal Services platforms to VHD. Microsoft acquired SoftGrid, which had its own virtual proprietary format, when it purchased Softricity in May 2006.
"For administrators, it's expected," Madden said. "Microsoft and Citrix have a long history. Citrix bought XenSource. Microsoft bought Softricity. We hope they integrate it all together to make it easier."