There was scepticism last year when arch-rivals Microsoft and Novell signed an alliance which would see Microsoft sell and support Linux systems.
Some argued that it was a ploy by Microsoft to convert Linux users to Windows. Now two of the world's largest organisations - Wal-Mart and HSBC - have signed up to Microsoft's Linux.
The reasons are clear: Windows is running in the datacentre, so is Linux. It is a multi-platform world. Neither Microsoft nor the Linux community can change that.
So rather than competing, isn't better if they work together? Matthew O'Neill, group head of distributed systems at HSBC, thinks so. He hopes the alliance will help reduce the complexity of the bank's Linux environment.
In his blog, Jeff Jaffe, chief technology officer at Novell, stresses the importance of making virtualisation work across Windows and Linux. This is what his customers are asking for.
The alliance will mean compatibility between Longhorn, the next release of the Windows Server operating system, and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10.
Refreshingly, Jaffe admits, "Microsoft Office is a reality, both within every company and across companies. The need to exchange documents is paramount."
Novell will face criticism this week at its annual Brainshare conference, but at least it has recognised that Linux must coexist in a Windows world.
However, Microsoft's Get The Facts site is less magnanimous. A case study from Continental AG says, "Windows Server provides a reliable environment with centralised management. Duplicating this level of service in a Linux-based environment would have been very difficult." One wonders what really is going on in Seattle.
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WalMart chooses LinuxOpening door to interoperability
This was first published in March 2007