Microsft, Xen and Hypervisor Partnerships

by jcannon on July 18, 2006 07:37pm

By now, many of you have seen the article, Microsoft Gives Linux a Virtual Hug.

If not, I recommend checking it out.

It describes Microsoft’s partnership with Xensource (www.xensource.com). For those who do not know anything about the technology and what they would use it for, I will give a brief description. Many years ago when processors where not so fast, memory was expensive and general computing hardware was not very powerful, we needed all we got to make a single computer run as fast as we could. Now, today, we are in an area where a lot of people and companies have hardware that is very powerful (And some could argue relatively cheap) that many have machines that are way more powerful than what they need. So they end up with machines that are underutilized. So, what can we do to squeeze the last bit of performance out of the hardware we bought? In comes a technology called hypervisor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervisor), which in laymen terms is a method (Either hardware or software implemented, or a combination thereof) that allows multiple operating systems to run at the same time. This, as I stated, can reduce hardware operating costs and adds a level of security and stability. (One operating system can not crash another one running on the same machine for example). Interestingly enough, Hypervisor is a relatively old technology, and was used early on in the 1970’s in mainframes.

I personally do not claim to have any insight to the articles meaning. (And we in the lab were not involved) But I think it indicates a trend here, the trend is that Microsoft is looking at OSS. Another example is of the OSS lab we work at here in Microsoft, which something many people did not think would happen any time soon.  (If ever)   As some of you might have read from my earlier blogs, I am very new at Microsoft, and I would have never expected to work here myself. As my colleagues can attest, I still walk the hallways talking about ‘them’ (Microsoft) and ‘us’ (OSS). So seeing changes like this are very exciting to me.

I was reading Slashdot, and the responses to the above article. And I have to smile about some of them.  There is a wide array of peoples opinion on the interpretation of this, the usual “Microsoft’s latest attempt to dominating the world” to people who seem surprised and excited about this direction.

Here in the Lab, we are taking what we do with our work very seriously, and all that comes out of the OSS world, we look at from many different angles. This group is very new inside Microsoft, and already we are making an impact. Several years ago the perception was that Microsoft was discounting OSS, and who would have predicted than that there would ever be an OSS research group at Microsoft.

There are many things we can continue to learn from each other, and we at the OSS Lab are very much looking forward to help erase FUD on both sides of the isle.

As always, comments/suggestions etc appreciated.

- Hank Janssen

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