Posted by Geoff Sullivan
Managing Sales Director, Open Solutions Group

Many people are surprised when they hear how much progress Microsoft and Novell have made in their efforts around Linux/Windows interoperability. When we announced our ground breaking agreement in November 2006, there was no shortage of skeptics. Some technical experts predicted that our proposed interoperability with SUSE Linux would prove to be strong on slide-ware and marketing fluff but short on execution.

We set up a dedicated interoperability lab in Cambridge, and even made contributions to the Linux kernel. This has led us to where are today: We have Windows Server Hyper-V managing virtualized SUSE applications and System Center Operations Manager discovering, managing and updating Linux servers.

And by virtue of the work done in Office 14, Microsoft and Novell are trading Microsoft Office documents and Open Office documents on a daily basis. When I stop to consider the progress we’ve made, it is hard to imagine that we were ever worried about what our joint development could accomplish from a technical standpoint.

The reality is that since we started selling Expanded Support from Novell, over 700 companies in 28 countries have responded positively to this customer connection. As Managing Sales Director in the Open Solutions Group at Microsoft, I have had a front row seat in witnessing how the combined Novell/Microsoft team has focused on making these customers’ current IT environment work better. Rather than us telling companies they need to buy more Windows servers, or Novell saying they need more SUSE Linux, we have jointly been asking for four years, “How can we make your current environment work better today and also prepare it for future growth?”

Looking ahead, there are many areas where Microsoft can better integrate with Open Source partners to benefit our mutual customers: We need to make it easier for customers to deploy and manage virtual machines on premise or in the Cloud, for both Windows and Linux applications; we need to continue our investments in giving customers the ability to manage their Linux and Windows workloads through a ‘single pane of glass’; and hosting partners – with their huge estates of both Windows and Linux servers – need better tools to manage and secure their servers.

In short, Microsoft needs to continue listening to the voice of the customer and take the lead in developing code, creating policies and engaging customers in a way that maximizes their current and future investments, whatever platform they are on.