Microsoft, Sun expand interoperability, add OEM deal

Mostly Sun shops with Windows stand to gain by each company's expanded warm fuzzies that include virtualization interoperability testing and a Windows Server OEM deal.

While Windows shops won't likely be bowled over by the news that Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc. have formed yet another alliance, the vendors overall collaborative effort could lead to better problem resolution.

The pair said they will open a lab in Redmond, Wash., to ensure that Solaris can run as a guest host on Microsoft's virtualization offerings and to also ensure that Windows servers can run in a Sun-virtualized environment.

The two will also continue collaborating on Web services, storage and 64-bit computing support, which is an extension of both company's existing pact. Nearly four years ago, Microsoft and Sun established a 10-year interoperability agreement.

For Sun shops, the teaming could reduce costs, since Windows running on Sun 64-bit hardware is less expensive than an all-Sun environment. Windows shops, on the other hand, will take little notice of the Sun OEM deal with all the other Windows server hardware options out there already, said Mike Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.

The collaboration, however, could make headway as far as better support for heterogeneous environments, Cherry said.

"If you're already running a heterogeneous environment mix of Sun and Windows,

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then the agreement will matter to you because it's important for vendors to support each other's configurations instead of finger pointing," Cherry said. "In that area you at least have a chance of getting your problem solved when you call support."

In a separate announcement, Sun said it would now preinstall Windows Server 2003 on all its servers.

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