Sure, Red Hat strives to compete with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. But the Linux company realizes it must also show VMware and Hyper-V a little love. A prime example: The new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4 release offers an "improved virtual guest experience on VMware and Hyper-V," Red Hat claims. So why should channel partners care?

Red Hat has been pushing hard beyond its Linux heritage, promoting Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), storage and middleware to channel partners and customers. CEO Jim Whitehurst in mid-2010 predicted open source virtualization would leapfrog VMware much in the way that Linux leapfrogged Unix.

Fast forward to the present and Red Hat has a nice start with virtualization (built on KVM, short for kernel-based virtual machine) but VMware is still considered the overwhelming market leader while Microsoft's own Hyper-V is coming on strong, thanks to enhancements that shipped with Windows Server 2012.

Instead of dismissing the competition, Red Hat realizes it must embrace the entrenched rivals. According to the company:

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 .4 now includes the Microsoft Hyper-V Linux drivers, improving the overall performance of the operating system when running as a guest on Microsoft Hyper-V. The latest release also offers installation support for the VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V para-virtualized drivers, improving the deployment experience for users working in these environments."

Those enhancements arrive as VMware Partner Exchange 2013 kicks off in Las Vegas. No doubt, VMware wants to promote its software-defined data center vision as the next natural step for VMware deployments. But it's a safe bet Microsoft will make some PR moves this week to tout Hyper-V's progress against the entrenched market leader.

Either way, Red Hat wants to assure partners and customers that its Linux distribution is a well-behaved citizen on either hypervisor. And if customers happen to choose RHEV along the way... well, that's just fine with Red Hat.