Microsoft and Novell have unveiled more details about the joint technical roadmap established in its strategic collaborative deal signed last November.

The companies said they were engaged in joint development on four areas of technology that address significant problems faced by enterprise customers today: virtualisation, web services for managing physical and virtual servers, directory and identity interoperability and document format compatibility.

“With this first installment of the Microsoft-Novell development roadmap, we see that both companies are building on this relationship to develop real, product-specific solutions to deliver on the promises made to customers,” said Al Gillen, research vice president, System Software, for IDC.

“The great potential of the November announcement between Microsoft and Novell could have been disappointing without a product-specific roadmap to execute against. With the roadmap, the technology benefits customers can expect will be tangible and delivered on a predictable basis.”

Microsoft and Novell are jointly developing a virtualisation offering for Linux and Windows Server to consolidate server workloads in heterogeneous data centres through a series of releases throughout 2007. They said it will allow users to host SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from as a virtualised guest on an upcoming service pack of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1, as well as an enlightened guest on the next version of Microsoft Windows Server, codenamed ‘Longhorn’, using the Windows Server virtualisation technology.

They also claim the ability to host Longhorn as a paravirtualized guest on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, using the Xen virtualisation technology embedded in the Linux operating system.

Customers will also get help manage their mixed Windows and SUSE Linux Enterprise physical and virtual environments by collaborating on standards-based web solutions that provide scalability and flexibility in managing heterogeneous environments.

Microsoft and Novell also said they are working toward improving directory and identity interoperability between Microsoft and Novell products and technologies using standards-based protocols designed to result in improved access control for IT resources managed with either Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory.

They also said since the deal was announced more than 35,000 new certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been activated under the Microsoft and Novell collaboration agreement. AIG Technologies, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Wal-Mart Stores were named among the first companies taking advantage of the Microsoft/Novell interoperability agreement.