The transformation of Microsoft under Satya Nadella has been remarkable. While parts of Microsoft were keen to embrace open source software in the past it appears Microsoft has developed a passion for Linux. While that passion doesn’t quite erase the embarrassment of former CEO Steve Ballmer’s attack back on Munich city council in 2013 for dumping Microsoft in favour of open source software, it does show that the company has moved on substantially since then.
More than 60% of Azure Marketplace images are Linux-based
Back in November, Microsoft and Red Hat announced that they were planning to move Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) onto Microsoft Azure. To be fair it has been possible to use virtual machines and run Linux on top of Windows for some time but this latest announcement goes further than many might expect. In a blog post from Corey Sanders, Director of Program Management, Azure he said:
“Starting today, you can deploy Red Hat Enterprise Linux instances from the Azure Marketplace, where now more than 60 percent of our images are Linux-based. With this release, we are delivering on the joint partnership announcement we made in November.”
Customers can now run two different editions of RHEL, 6,7 and 7.2 in all Azure regions with the exception of two; China and the US Government. It’s not immediately clear why it has been excluded from those two regions. RHEL has already achieved FedRAMP certification with other deployments so there is no reason, other than the time required to achieve FedRAMP certification on Azure that would impact deployment. Meanwhile China has a huge Linux base so it could just be Microsoft protecting its own products.
One of the challenges of purchasing any product through a third-party marketplace is support. Sanders said: “We offer the best enterprise-grade support of the public cloud, by offering a fully integrated support experience with co-located Red Hat and Microsoft support engineers sitting side-by-side to help you when you need it!”
On top of this customers will also have access to the Red Hat customer portal. This means that existing RHEL can begin to deploy on Azure without having to change their existing support contracts with Red Hat. This provides a sense of stability for many customers and will help them factor in Azure as a deployment option going forward.
This is an interesting announcement from Microsoft. In many ways the bigger surprise is not the availability of RHEL instances from the Azure Marketplace but the statement from Sanders that 60% of Azure Marketplace images are Linux-based. Microsoft is not the only company keen to get as many Linux flavours and applications onto its cloud platform. IBM has also been on a push which has seen all the major distributions of Linux on its Power System and z Systems platforms.
This latest announcement by Sanders may have some of the Microsoft old guard spluttering in their coffee but it is good news for customers and we wait to see how quickly customers buy into this.