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Microsoft-Novell staff up joint lab

The Microsoft-Novell pact gets down to business as the vendors post jobs for positions at its joint interoperability lab.

Hoping to please its biggest corporate customers, Microsoft and Novell Inc. have vowed to work together to make Windows and Linux more interoperable. Now both companies are staffing up a research lab where the joint testing and development work will take place.

The companies are creating the Joint Interoperability Lab at an as yet undisclosed location. They are both seeking candidates for two types of positions: program manager and software design engineer in test. The jobs are being posted on the Microsoft blog site Port25, Microsoft's portal for interoperability information.

Back in November, Microsoft and Novel struck a deal to develop and offer joint support for Windows and the Linux operating system. The agreement covers technology development in the areas of virtualization, Web services management and document formatting.

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At the time, Microsoft also made public that it would provide immediate patent protection for customers who use Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The company also said it would make document translation between Office and OpenOffice available within 60 days. By January, Microsoft said it would have more information about how it would support virtualized operating systems on top of Windows.

The two vendors had also said that by this month they would test Windows Server against SUSE Enterprise Server and share error reporting so both companies can come to market with a tested, supported configuration. Microsoft has yet to provide an update on its plans.

Staffing up the lab is one step forward for Microsoft and Novell in making sure they begin to deliver on their promises, said Tony Iams, senior analyst with Ideas International Ltd., based in Rye Brook, N.Y. It also demonstrates Microsoft's pragmatic approach toward interoperability.

"Microsoft has already moved beyond that [attack Linux] mode, even before its deal with Novell. But what this collaboration really signals is a new mandate by the customers for heterogeneous environments and this is driven even more by virtualization," Iams said.

Microsoft is developing a hypervisor, code-named Viridian, which will be part of Longhorn, due out in early 2008.

"By 2008 you'll start to see some fairly serious deployments of servers on virtualization platforms when Viridian comes out after Longhorn ships," Iams said. "Novell has already gone that path. [SUSE Linux Enterprise Server] already has a hypervisor built in that can run Linux, now [Microsoft and Novell] have to make sure Windows can run on that."

By 2008, Iams predicts corporations will begin to see a convergence of technology and business between the two vendors, resulting in a unified hypervisor platform across Microsoft's and Novell's operating systems as a result of this collaboration.

The specific jobs that Microsoft is seeking to fill call for a variety of experience. The company wants a software development engineer who can qualify Microsoft's new Longhorn Server hypervisor-based virtual machine solution in a collaborative project with Novell. Another position requires testing a SLES10-based virtual machine solution in a collaborative project with Microsoft.

In addition, they need a senior program manager to manage interoperability projects between Linux and Windows and be responsible for a "multimillion dollar, multi-year" effort to ensure high performance and availability of both SUSE Linux on Viridian and Longhorn Server on Xen.

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