Microsoft keeps swallowing its pride by supporting its once-bitter rivals in its cloud

Satya Nadella Linux
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Microsoft

Not long ago, it seemed impossible that Microsoft would ever do anything with technologies like the rival operating system Linux, which ex-CEO Steve Ballmer once likened to a “cancer.”

And yet, under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, the company has committed its Microsoft Azure cloud to supporting open source technologies like Linux, and buried the hatchet with Linux distributors like Red Hat.

Today, Microsoft’s relatively new love affair with open source technology continues with a trio of small announcements:

  1. The Azure Container Service, which lets developers build application using the very hot technology of software containers, is now in public preview.
  2. Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a version of the Linux operating system designed for use in business servers and data centres, is now available for purchase from the Microsoft Azure marketplace.
  3. Microsoft has partnered with Bitnami, a project to make it more simple to install open source software, to make a variety of popular open source software easier for developers to use on Azure.

It’s worked out: Microsoft now says that 60% of the software it sells from its Azure marketplace for developers is somehow Linux-based. And about 25% of the virtual machines running on Azure are using Linux, too, as of summer 2015.

None of these announcements are especially new, or out of left field. Microsoft first announced its Red Hat partnership back in November 2015. And it’s been slowly rolling out the Azure Container Service, in partnership with hot startups Docker and Mesosphere, since last year, too.

“The ultimate conversation, the ultimate goal we all share is to ease customer problems,” says Microsoft Azure Director of Program Management Corey Sanders.

But it’s a continuing sign that Microsoft is just going to keep investing in open source technologies — something that’s absolutely key if it wants to keep competing with Amazon Web Service and grow the Azure cloud business.

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