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Microsoft to help sell Hyper-V infused Linux distro in China

Aug 23, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Microsoft and China Standard Software Co. Ltd. (CS2C) announced a deal through which CS2C's Linux-based NeoKylin Linux Server distribution will be matched with Hyper-V Open Cloud architecture. The combined offering, which puts Microsoft in the unlikely business of selling Linux solutions, is aimed at developing cloud applications in China, and is expected to be deployed in the defense infrastructure, as well as industry at large.

Aside from demanding — and almost always receiving — lucrative patent agreements from embedded Linux and Android vendors, Microsoft hasn't had much use for Linux. However there is one notable exception: For two years it has been trying to push its Hyper-V virtualization technology on the open source operating system (see farther below).

On Aug. 22, the company won a key partner in this effort as it signed a deal with China's leading domestic Linux operating system (OS) provider, China Standard Software Co. Ltd. (CS2C). The agreement calls for the companies to jointly develop, market, and sell cloud-computing solutions that combine CS2C NeoKylin Linux Server with Microsoft's Hyper-V Open Cloud architecture.

The two companies have also signed "a mutually beneficial customer legal covenant agreement," says Microsoft. It is unclear whether this is another patent agreement related to Linux or another type of legal pact. Over on ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley reports asking Microsoft if this was about patents, but a spokesperson was said to have declined comment.

Microsoft and CS2C will also sponsor a joint virtual technology lab in Beijing for development and testing of cloud solutions using the combined platform. Specifically, the lab will focus on the certification of CS2C NeoKylin OS on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V, says Microsoft.

Redmond promises to create Microsoft Systems Center management packs for NeoKylin application workloads, and incorporate support for NeoKylin within the Hyper-V Cloud architecture. In addition, the agreement calls for CS2C to participate in the Interop Vendor Alliance, which aims to work together to "enhance interoperability with Microsoft systems," says Microsoft.

CS2C's NeoShine and NeoKylin Linux distros

CS2C sells a NeoShine" Linux distribution in desktop, server, and specialized "office" and security-enhanced versions. In June at Computex, it announced a version aimed at MeeGo tablets, and offered it on an Intel Atom-based tablet reference design from Shenzhen, China OEM CZC.

In April of that year, CS2C formally signed up as a MeeGo supporter, with a testimonial quote that cited its previous Moblin Linux version of NeoShine, which was deployed on "entry-level desktops in the China Go Rural program that boosts rural development with IT."

NeoKylin Linux is a newer, more secure product announced in December 2010 as a collaboration of the National University of Defense Technology, according to a PCWorld story at the time. The OS was said to be aimed at Chinese national defense and all sectors of the country's economy.

The story did not mention an operating system, but in January FreeBSD News reported that NeoKylin was based on FreeBSD. Microsoft and CS2C, however, refer to the version they are using as being based on Linux.

When it was announced in December, NeoKylin was billed as a step toward a stronger domestic operating system environment for China, and an alternative to Microsoft Windows. Yet, Microsoft convinced CS2C to at least pair the Linux distro with Hyper-V.

Whether or not this development has anything to do with the aforementioned "legal covenant agreement," Microsoft now has its foot in the door of the potentially lucrative Chinese cloud market. But to do so, it had to agree to sell Linux-based solutions to a market it has long craved for Windows.

Microsoft's Hyper-V seduction of Linux

Microsoft's attempts to hitch Hyper-V to Linux server solutions began in earnest in July 2009 when the company surprised the industry by announcing it had released 20,000 lines of code under GPLv2 for three Linux device drivers, for potential contribution to the Linux kernel. Developed by Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (OSTC), the three Linux drivers were said to enhance the performance of Linux when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V server virtualization platforms.

In September 2009, Microsoft announced the CodePlex Foundation, an organization intended to enable the "exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities," according to the company at the time. Once again, Hyper-V integration was a main focus.

Hyper-V gradually gained support in the Linux world, for example, with Microsoft's Linux partner Novell making sure that Hyper-V was well supported in SUSE Linux and the related community-oriented OpenSUSE. After Attachmate acquired Novell, its newly named SUSE business unit announced a four-year extension of Novell's controversial strategic collaboration with Microsoft. The deal included plans to develop a cross-platform solution with Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Around the same time, the unsettling news arrived that Microsoft was the seventh largest contributor to the Linux 3.0 kernel, and the fifth largest corporate contributor. As it turned out, all 361 changes or patches that Microsoft made to the Linux kernel were related to its Hyper-V driver.

Stated Simon Leung, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Greater China Region, "Through this collaboration, we seek to support our joint customers in China with solutions for the cloud, which will help them build upon their existing operational investments."

Stated Han Naiping, president of CS2C. "We are seizing the important opportunity to collaborate with Microsoft to deliver comprehensive, flexible, cloud-based solutions that will serve as a platform for business growth."

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