Is Microsoft Reaching Out to Linux with Windows Azure?

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 02, 2012

As Linux becomes more firmly entrenched in businesses, and as cloud computing advances in general, Linux and the cloud are set to converge faster than ever. In fact, some are looking at 2012 as the year that Linux begins to dominate in the cloud. That's why a new post out from Mary Jo Foley is significant. Foley reports (based on input from contacts who ask not to be identified) that "Microsoft is preparing to launch a new persistent virtual machine feature on its Azure cloud platform, enabling customers to host Linux, SharePoint and SQL Server there."

According to Foley:

"What does this mean? Customers who want to run Windows or Linux “durably” (i.e., without losing state) in VMs on Microsoft’s Azure platform-as-a-service platform will be able to do so...The new persistent VM support also will allow customers to run SQL Server or SharePoint Server in VMs, as well. And it will enable customers to more easily move existing apps to the Azure platform."

That last part is the key for Microsoft in all of this. For some time now, Microsoft has moved from its stance of years ago, where it didn't make it easy to run Linux compatibly with its other tools, toward ensuring that Linux users can arrive on its platforms, and bring applications there. Note this mention from Foley:

"Running Linux on Azure has been a surprisingly big  business-customer request, as well, my contacts said."

Indeed, lots of businesses would like to run Linux, Windows, and Windows-based tools in heterogenous environments. That's true most of all in the cloud. 

As we noted here, Microsoft is not only one of the top contributors to the Linux kernel, but virtualization at the server level is now easy and efficient enough that IT adminstrators are already running Linux and Windows together. They don't want just one operating system. Specifically, many of them want to run Linux alongside Windows Server and on Azure, and that means that the Linux kernel and Windows Server, and Microsoft's cloud platform, and SharePoint and more tools need to be able to play together nicely.

It should be noted that Microsoft has not confirmed the report regarding Azure, but the company would be shrewd to set its cloud computing platform on a path of convergence with Linux and Linux-based applications.