Microsoft and Novell yesterday revealed more details about their joint technical roadmap and what customers can expect from the collaboration. 

The two companies are engaged in joint development on four areas of technology that address significant problems faced by enterprise customers today: virtualisation, Web services for managing physical and virtual servers; directory and identity interoperability; and document format compatibility.
“With this first installment of the Microsoft-Novell development roadmap, we see that both companies are building on this relationship to develop real, product-specific solutions to deliver on the promises made to customers,” says Al Gillen, research vice-president: System Software at IDC. “The potential of the November announcement between Microsoft and Novell could have been disappointing without a product-specific roadmap to execute against. With the roadmap, the technology benefits customers can expect will be tangible and delivered on a predictable basis.”
Microsoft and Novell are jointly developing a virtualisation offering for Linux and Windows Server to consolidate server workloads in heterogeneous data centers. The virtualisation collaboration agreement between Novell and Microsoft will result in technology designed to allow customers to do the following:
* Host SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell as a virtualised guest on an upcoming service pack of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1;
* Host SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 as an enlightened guest on the next version of Microsoft Windows Server, using the Windows Server virtualisation technology; and
* Host Windows Server “Longhorn” as a paravirtualised guest on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, using the Xen virtualisation technology embedded in the Linux operating system.
These components of the virtualisation collaboration will be released throughout 2007.
The two companies are also working with the community to make it easier for customers to manage their mixed Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise physical and virtual environments by collaborating on standards-based solutions that provide exceptional scalability and flexibility in managing heterogeneous environments.
The Web Services for Management (WS-Management) specification supports the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) initiative to expose model-agnostic management resources via a set of Web services protocols.
Novell is working with the open source community to develop an open source implementation of the WS-Management specification. Novell ZENworks Orchestrator and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 will incorporate WS-Management this year.
Another area of collaboration is aimed at improving directory and identity interoperability between Microsoft and Novell products and technologies using standards-based protocols designed to result in improved access control for IT resources managed with either Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory.
They will be developing a series of interoperability demonstrations that focus on interoperability between technologies and products from both companies. A more detailed roadmap for this collaborative effort will be available in the first half of 2007.
As previously announced, Microsoft and Novell are delivering seamless interoperability between office productivity applications. Novell is co-operating with Microsoft and others on an open source project to create a bi-directional translator for documents, spreadsheets and presentations between the OpenDocument format (ODF), which is supported by OpenOffice.org, and Open XML, the default file format for Microsoft Office.
On 2 February, Microsoft announced the availability of the Open XML/ODF Translator for the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office XP. Later this month, Novell will release an Open XML/ODF Translator for the Novell edition of OpenOffice.org. The document translators represent the first product deliverables resulting from the technical collaboration between Microsoft and Novell. Both Novell and Microsoft will continue to work on the translator project to extend the interoperability to spreadsheets and presentations.
“The majority of our customers have mixed-source environments, and they want their platform vendors to take responsibility for making things work together,” says Jeff Jaffe, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at Novell. “That's what our technical collaboration agreement with Microsoft is all about. We're working together to deliver true interoperability between Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise, and we are standing together behind our products and our customers.”
Yesterday's announcements follow on from the 2 November 2006 agreement between Microsoft and Novell to jointly build, market and support new solutions to improve interoperability, deliver powerful new virtualisation capabilities, and make Microsoft and Novell products work better together. As part of the five-year agreement, Microsoft can use, resell or distribute certificates that customers redeem to receive SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions for upgrades, updates and technical support from Novell.
Since the announcement, more than 35 000 new certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been activated under the Microsoft and Novell collaboration agreement.