Microsoft Enhances Interoperability With Open Virtualization Format

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Oct. 17, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced at the Interoperability Summit in Brussels that its virtualization format technology will now be available under its Open Specification Promise (OSP), an irrevocable promise from Microsoft to every individual and organization in the world to make use of this patented technology for free, now and forever when implementing specified open standards. Microsoft first announced the availability of an OSP for Web services specifications in September 2006 and now is expanding its customer-focused commitment to interoperability by applying the OSP to Microsoft’s Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Image Format specification.

Virtualization allows IT professionals to pool resources; for example, one computer can run many operating systems and applications at the same time. The result is that organizations can better manage complexity, increase agility and reduce costs. Many IT professionals believe virtualization will be among the most important technology advancements in the next few years. Microsoft’s VHD format, which has been available since May 2005, captures the entire virtual machine operating system and the application stack in a single file. With the VHD format as a freely available specification, Microsoft is contributing to the continued expansion of the virtualization market by fostering interoperability among all commercial software solutions, including open source.

“We are focused on delivering interoperability by design,” said Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. “This means that customers have control over their data while vendors provide technologies that connect diverse systems. By having the VHD specification available under the OSP, the technology is viable for any development or business model. We continue to increase our commitment to interoperability in our products and by providing access to technologies like the virtualization open format.”

Helping developers build innovative and interoperable solutions regardless of the development or licensing model, the OSP has been praised by such industry figures as Red Hat Deputy General Counsel Mark Webbink and former General Counsel for the Open Source Initiative Larry Rosen for clarifying the legal concerns surrounding Microsoft’s IP. Similar to the OSP applied to Web service specifications, the OSP for the VHD format will promote further industry interoperability.

Others in the industry support Microsoft’s move to make the OSP applicable to the VHD format:

  • “Virtualization is an essential layer in Fujitsu Siemens Computers’ Dynamic Data Center, which can offer enterprise customers improved management and flexibility using virtual machine products on PRIMERGY Servers,” said Jens-Peter Seick, vice president at Fujitsu Siemens Computers. “VHD will certainly set an important new standard in the area of server virtualization. A common virtualization format like VHD helps provide more seamless manageability, security, reliability and cost-efficiency for customers, and it helps ensure a uniform product support system.”

  • “Virtual Iron is committed to enabling the benefits of dynamic infrastructure and policy-based management, regardless of which virtualization technology a customer selects,” said Mike Grandinetti, chief marketing officer at Virtual Iron Software Inc. “By adopting Microsoft’s VHD format, Virtual Iron is leveraging a rapidly emerging industry standard. Our comprehensive Virtual Infrastructure Management Platform, which supports advanced capabilities such as the  transparent migration of  virtual servers between physical servers with zero downtime, will provide users with the ability to manage virtual machines in the VHD format.”

  • “We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft to deliver interoperable virtualization solutions to the market,” said Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of XenSource Inc. “Today, we use Microsoft’s VHD format to consume virtual machines that are created in Microsoft Virtual Server and get them up and running on XenEnterprise™. Longer term, we’re jointly developing technology so that Xen™–enabled Linux guests will run on Windows Server® virtualization when it becomes available with the future version of Windows Server, code-named ‘Longhorn.’”

As a common virtualization file format, VHD has been adopted by more than 60 vendors, enabling partners such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc., BMC Software Inc., Diskeeper Corp., Fujitsu Siemens Computers, Network Appliance Inc., Virtual Iron and XenSource to help provide more seamless manageability, security features, reliability and cost efficiency for customers. Customers and partners realize the value of standardizing on the Microsoft VHD format because it is the Microsoft virtualization file format and offers migration across Microsoft Virtual Server, Virtual PC, and Windows Server virtualization with Windows Server “Longhorn.” The OSP will help further broad adoption of the VHD format.

Microsoft launched its increased commitment to interoperability with the formation of the Interoperability Customer Executive Council in June 2006 and has continued this work through projects such as the open source Open XML Translator, technical collaborations with AOL LLC and Yahoo! Inc. to help consumers reach across instant messenger community boundaries, a virtualization technical collaboration with XenSource, and the release of the OSP for 35 Web services protocols.

More information about Microsoft’s commitment to interoperability by design and the list of specifications covered by the OSP today can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/interop.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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