Yes, Windows Server, Ubuntu and OpenStack Can Play Nicely Together

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 09, 2014

In conjunction with OpenStack Summit late last year, the OpenStack Foundation released the results of a broad user survey it did, with an accompanying infographic. One of the big surprises in the survey was that Ubuntu had emerged as the most popular platform for enterprises to deploy OpenStack on. Within the OpenStack ecosystem, users reported that they went with Ubuntu 55 percent of the time as their host operating system, a statistic that Matt Asay discussed in an interesting post.

Ubuntu's popularity with the OpenStack crowd can't be lost on Microsoft, and Microsoft has learned that it must play nicely with Linux in its virtualization and cloud product lines. Now, Canonical has reported that it has completed work with Microsoft on tools for Windows Server to run on top of OpenStack and Ubuntu. 

According to a Canonical post:

"We have been working with Microsoft to develop and certify virtio drivers, virtualised Windows drivers that allow Windows guests to run on KVM hypervisors and subsequently, on OpenStack. This allows enterprises with a large Windows Server footprint to build OpenStack clouds on Ubuntu but keep their guest OS and workloads untouched. The virtio drivers provide optimised performance for a guest running on an Ubuntu OpenStack cloud, and are available for all current Windows Server editions, including Windows 2008R2, Windows 2012, and Windows 2012R2."

For some time now, Canonical has been expanding OIL , the Ubuntu OpenStack Interoperability Lab, in which the company tests thousands of third-party solution combinations against OpenStack to ensure compatibility and high performance. Ensuring integration with Windows Server is a shrewd move, given Microsoft's footprint in enterprises, and Microsoft needs its tools to work smoothly with OpenStack and Ubuntu to serve heterogenous computing environments.

The virtio drivers are available to Canonical customers as part of the Ubuntu Advantage support program. Ubuntu issues a Hardware Enablement (HWE) kernel release every six months, and Canonical will also be supporting those kernels against the Windows Server releases, so customers should get updated Windows drivers for their guests. The drivers will run on any Ubuntu Server Long-term Support (LTS) release as well as any OpenStack version supported under that release.

Microsoft has reportedly signed off on the drivers, and has endorsed the fact that Ubuntu can run Windows guests in a stable way.

This is actually very big news from the perspective of Windows and Linux working together. At the server level, Linux has done big things, and Ubuntu's success with OpenStack users is notable. Microsoft and Canonical will both benefit from the new integration and compatibility tools.