Microsoft and Red Hat have announced the fruits of their first major collaboration, eight months after first revealing their mutual support agreement.

The two companies announced they have completed testing and validation and that they now fully support virtualisation environments that combine Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4.

"It was a fairly big deal [in February 2009], there had never been an interoperability agreement between Microsoft and Red Hat," said Mike Evans, vice president of corporate development for Red Hat. Evans emphasised there was no financial arrangement, patent licensing or other deals. "It is straightforward interoperability testing," he said, hinting at other deals Microsoft has cut with Sun and Novell.

But cooperation on the virtualisation front has become the order of the day as virtualization has established itself as an integral part of data centres.

The work by the duo helps expand support on both platforms. Red Hat already supports VMware, while Microsoft has a support deal with Novell and its Suse Linux platform. In July, Microsoft shocked the industry by contributing virtualisation device drivers to the Linux kernel.

The completed certifications include: Validation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 using the Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor with Windows Server 2003, 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 guests; and certification of host platforms running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft Hyper-V with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 guests.

Microsoft's Mike Neil, general manager of Windows Server and server virtualisation, said in a blog post that the cooperation goes beyond the operating system and both companies "have select applications that would receive technical support when running on certified server virtualization software."

Neil said the Microsoft applications included BizTalk Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint server and others. On the Red Hat side, users can run JBoss Enterprise Middleware within a virtual machine guest on Hyper-V and receive coordinated technical support.

Evans said the agreement granted support to any customer with a valid Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription, while Microsoft customers with support agreements for Windows Server 2008 are eligible for support. Microsoft customers without agreements can purchase support per incident.

He added rhat Red Hat was not discussing how it will support Windows Server 2008 guests within its management tools. He said there would be more information on that at year-end when Red Hat ships Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager, a set of management tools for desktops and servers. Red Hat also will ship a stand-alone hypervisor called Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor that will also support Windows guests.

Microsoft supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4.x and 5.x on its System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2, but will need to update its Virtual Machine Manager software to manage Red Hat guest operating systems on Hyper-V.