On November 4, 2015, Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft, announced that Microsoft and Red Hat had formed a partnership that would bring more flexibility to hybrid cloud enterprise environments. Specifically, the partnership allows cloud products running under the Linux operating system to integrate with Microsoft Azure.

This partnership announcement is yet another indication that Microsoft is no longer competing with rivals at the operating system level. The real battle is enterprise cloud services.


Azure is Microsoft’s umbrella name for all of the company’s enterprise cloud products, including everything from websites to virtual machines to remote apps. Of course, when you look at Red Hat you will see a similar list of products. So it would seem the two companies should be at loggerheads, not creating partnerships.

But that is not how the real world works, at least not when it comes to enterprise information technology environments. IT in large enterprises is seldom unified on a single platform. Microsoft Azure has to be able to work with Red Hat Linux and vice versa. It is how enterprises choose to operate. It’s just how the IT world works.

By creating this partnership with Red Hat and working together, Microsoft can offer enterprises the flexibility they require for cloud services. According to the announcement, the agreement means that:

  • Red Hat solutions will be available natively to Microsoft Azure customers.
  • Enterprise-grade support will be integrated and span hybrid environments.
  • .NET technologies will be available across Red Hat products for application development.
  • Workload management will be unified across hybrid cloud deployments.

Hybrid cloud

The benefits of cloud services for enterprises of all sizes have been firmly established. As the announcement says, the question is not “why cloud” anymore; the current question is “how cloud” How can enterprises integrate their disparate systems into a coherent and efficient IT infrastructure?

The idea that an enterprise will adopt a single cloud services platform is unrealistic. Companies like Microsoft and Red Hat have made peace with the concept of the hybrid cloud. They’ve had to accept that the fees they earn from enterprises will be split in some fashion. They’ve had to accept that providing enterprise support may require knowing as much about another company’s products as they know about their own.

A hybrid cloud solution requires seemingly competing products and services to work together seamlessly, and a partnership between Red Hat and Microsoft goes a long toward making that a reality.

Bottom line

Cooperation has become a vital part of Microsoft’s overall strategic plan. Microsoft has accepted the idea that their cloud services are not the only cloud services. The days of exclusive contracts, if they ever really existed, are gone. Enterprises want and need cloud technology to work together, and Microsoft is doing whatever it can to make that possible.

It is the right strategy for Microsoft and Azure. In fact, it is the only enterprise strategy that will be successful in the long term. This is the era of the hybrid cloud and companies selling cloud services need to embrace it or suffer the consequences. Microsoft and Red Hat understand that and look to benefit with this partnership.

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Your thoughts

How many different cloud services exist in your enterprise? Do they all fit together or do you have to spend time working around them? Do we need more partnerships like this one between Microsoft and Red Hat?