Linux

Microsoft now offering Linux on Azure: What does this mean?

What does it mean now that Microsoft is supporting and offering Linux on the Azure cloud platform? Has the operating system giant finally accepted the underdog as a colleague and partner? Jack Wallen offers his take.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced it had created an entire department dedicated to open source. Last week, I wrote about how the UEFI could possibly (negatively) affect the whole of the Linux landscape. This roller coaster of Microsoft love has just reached another peak of joy when Microsoft announced they were going to offer Ubuntu, CentOS, and SUSE Linux on their Azure cloud. Officially they will be supporting Linux VM and hosting framework support on Azure.

That's right. Even on the Azure web site it says:

Use any OS.

Now, there still isn't (nor will there ever be, I would imagine) a Microsoft Linux. But to me, this is kind of a big deal. Of all the open source glad-handing and back-patting Microsoft has done, this one step says to the consumer (consumers of Azure), developers, and the whole of the Linux-verse:

Microsoft has accepted Linux as a "colleague".

No longer is Windows the teachers on the campus and Linux the janitor; they are equals.

Before those certificate-holding, flag-waving, bean-counting CFO/CTO/GTOs get their foreheads in a wrinkly bind -- I'm not talking about market share (nor ever will). I'm talking about respect. Microsoft has finally given the nod to every developer that has ever touched Linux, validating the hard (and often thankless) work they have done over the years.

What is also interesting about this is that it is, for the most part, a two-way street. Many of the Linux devotees I know and hold in high regard, no longer look at Microsoft as the evil empire they once were. Oh sure, they aren't perfect and some of the steps they take crush underfoot, many a wannabe and hope-to-be. But the current up and down of Microsoft support for Linux seems to be more "up" than "down". This two-way street offers quite a lot of benefit to both players. As Microsoft continues to grow their support for Linux (and open source), the open source community will begin to stop seeing the software behemoth as a plague and monster. And of course this addition of Linux to the Microsoft Cloud Platform is a huge step forward and could possibly help Linux become even a bigger player in the enterprise world. Two. Way. Street.

But will it?

I would imagine there will be plenty of developers to take advantage of the ability to develop cross-platform tools with the help of Azure. But what about the enterprise as a whole? Will they adopt various incarnations of virtualized Linux machines to serve as virtual desktops, web servers, database servers, etc? Only time will tell, but I would imagine -- should Microsoft take this one step further and actually advertise the incredible benefits gained by using Linux on their cloud platform -- Linux will, in fact, see some major love thanks to Azure.

Ten years ago, had you told me Microsoft would be offering this kind of support for the Linux operating system, I would have scoffed at your idea. Now? Not so much. I do believe the new Microsoft regime has taken a completely different stance on the open source operating system and will continue to give more and more attention to the operating system that has fought, tooth and nail, for every ounce of respect it could earn.

I don't tip my hat to Microsoft often, but this time I do. It's good to see a company -- one that has so often been referred to in many derogatory ways by the open source community -- continue to step up their game with open source. Let's hope it lasts.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

a Linux VM on their cloud based software system to try and encourage people to use their cloud based software is simply another attempt to try and get money out of people. If they were serious about encouraging Linux or any Open Source Software they would rewrite ALL their software to use the Industry Standard Command Sets and not the ever changing Microsoft Command Sets and thus allow Windows and ALL their other software to run natively on, or use, any Industry Standard hardware and any OS platform and use any Industry Standard software and totally do away with the need for special Windows drivers, Windows backwards compatibility, and it would make all standard hardware out of the box Windows compatible. But we'll never see it as it means dropping the entire idea of Vendor Lock-in that Microsoft has been pushing towards for nearly twenty years.

blaineclrk
blaineclrk

I'm sorry that I feel this way, but it seems like a trick at least and perhaps a deadly trap. I hope that Linux and all the distros have every possible angle checked in each and every document at every step taken. I don't trust MS. Money and power are their gods and litigation is their demon.

ErikMartinson
ErikMartinson

This seems to good to be true. A user of this service will be paying MS same rates (or more) as their server OS to use a Linux Distro that is much less to host elsewhere or practically free in-house. Lave it to MS to turn a profit on something that is open source.

stonelx
stonelx

Microsoft is not doing this to be nice, or to help with Linux and the opensource community. They are doing this for money. And nothing else.

alzie
alzie

Hmmm . . . i dont know what to think. As you say theyve been a roller coaster. I wonder how long thisll last? I for one have been dissed by their grab assy corporate attitude, not to mention being a huge mal ware target. Ditto for Apple. Thats why i am religiously OSS now. I ll believe the love when i see a M$ branded Linux like Android. Ha! I ll bet you that it wont be for free.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

Windows, Linux, iOS, whatever are tools. Each has strengths and weaknesses and fit better in different jobs. Now we can use all of them in the same place to handle the parts of the job they all do best it will be interesting to see what people come up with.

a.portman
a.portman

I think you are making a bigger deal than it is. Once you start in cloud based apps, Linux is the way to go. For MS to offer an easy path to a Linux app, costs MS nothing. Consider how many times MS needed to hear, "Server 2008 only? I think I will pass." before offering a free for them service. Now a better question. "Would you buy an MS support contract for your Linux VM?"