Posted by Kerry Godes
Senior Manager, Worldwide Marketing and Operations

Open Door Policy is a series on the Openness blog that profiles industry thought leaders and individuals within Microsoft who are leading efforts to collaborate more openly, promoting interoperability and making it easier to develop and manage mixed IT environments.

As we move into summer it’s a great time to pause and reflect, and take the measure of the journey we’ve been on. In that spirit, we recently caught up with K.Y. Srinivasan, one of Microsoft’s Principal Software Developers who focuses on open source and interoperability. We asked K.Y. to talk about the interoperability enhancements he and his team have been undertaking with the Linux community, and about the larger vision guiding this work.

Can you start with how Microsoft and the Linux community are working together on kernel contributions?

It’s all part of our larger vision, which is to ensure that anything our customers want to run, they can run on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. This is what customers tell us they want.

One of the best things about getting to this point has been going through the process of working with the Linux community to refine and improve our code so that it best serves our customers. It was particularly gratifying to hear from Linux Foundation VP Greg Kroah-Hartman (in an interview with Wired magazine) that merging Microsoft’s code into the Linux kernel tree made it smaller and easier to maintain.

What are some of this year’s top interoperability gains for customers?

Linux interoperability has been enabled through work across the company. Customers can run Red Hat and SUSE on Hyper-V. We worked with Canonical, OpenLogic and SUSE to enable Linux images to run on Windows Azure Virtual Machines with high performance. We teamed up with NetApp and Citrix, who helped us contribute some 8,500 lines of code so that FreeBSD can run on Hyper-V. All of that is possible in part because of the work we’ve done with the Linux kernel.

What will you be focused on in the coming months and beyond with Linux?

My team remains committed to ensuring as far as possible that whatever features we implement in Hyper-V and Windows Azure are available to Linux guests. I want to get to the point where customers who are considering deploying Linux will see the Hyper-V and Windows Azure environments as the best choice for running Linux.

For example, we’ve just finished adding dynamic memory for Linux guests, which is a very important feature when a customer wants to consolidate a lot of workloads. It will allow you to manage the physical memory better across virtual machines. There is also a range of other drivers and interoperability between Linux and Windows that we’ll be working on; basically, we want to look at anything that we feel our customers do or will find important.

Has there been any critical feedback about this interoperability work with Linux?

The feedback we receive primarily focuses on what features and functionality customers want to see next and we welcome all that feedback! I don’t think anyone really begrudges this – ultimately, the work is good for everyone who is involved.

What changes have you seen with Microsoft’s approach to Linux and open source?

When I came to Microsoft, there was a disconnect within the company in terms of understanding how the Linux community works. Generally, if an update doesn’t make it into one kernel, it will make it into the next one. There was initially some friction to have our patches taken immediately, but soon we were able to teach Microsoft how the community functions, and that they don’t want to get pressured as to when they take in a patch. We’ve also streamlined how quickly we could respond to feedback we got from the community.

What do you wish more people understood about Microsoft’s work with open source communities and with Linux in particular?

That we are serious and not just putting in some code that is not up-to-snuff. We are committed to updating our code and bringing additional functionality. Our goal has been to make Hyper-V and Windows Azure the best for Linux. We’re interested in whatever it takes -- everything is up for discussion in order to ensure that our customers will have the very best experience when running Linux.