​Microsoft deploys first major server application on Ubuntu Linux

Microsoft's love affair with Linux continues as the company releases HDInsight, Microsoft's big data Hadoop-on-Azure service for Ubuntu Linux on its Azure cloud.

Even after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed Microsoft loved Linux and Microsoft released a specialized Linux for switches, Azure Cloud Switch, many don't buy that Microsoft believes in Linux. What will it take? Maybe, it will be this: Microsoft has selected Ubuntu for its first Linux-based software-as-a service offering, HDInsight, Microsoft's big data Hadoop-on-Azure service.

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Windows and Ubuntu working together.
Microsoft has partnered with Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, and Hortonworks, a major developer of the Hadoop program. Hadoop enables distributed processing of big data over commodity server clusters and clouds. Together the three companies have made it possible to run HDInsight on Ubuntu on Microsoft's Azure cloud.

According to John Zannos, Canonical's VP of Cloud Alliances and Ecosystem, this isn't surprising. "Today, more than 20 percent of virtual machines on Azure are Linux and VM Depot has more than 1,000 Linux images. The vast majority of these images are Ubuntu."

Zannos added, "Over the last year Microsoft has been an active proponent of open-source software technologies, and we at Canonical are delighted to be Microsoft's Linux of choice in Azure and now HDInsight."

On the Microsoft side, T.K. Ranga Rengarajan, corporate VP of databases and big data, said, "The general availability of Azure HDInsight on Ubuntu Linux ... includes a service level agreement guarantee of 99.9% uptime and full technical support for the entire stack with the choice of running Hadoop workloads on Hortonworks Data Platform in Azure HDInsight using Ubuntu or Windows. There's also a growing ecosystem of ISV's delivering tools to create big data solutions on the Azure data platform with HDInsight."

Zannos continued. "Organizations have embraced HDInsight on Ubuntu because it makes it easier to move from their on-premises Hadoop deployments to the cloud." This is all part of Microsoft's Azure Data Lake plans to use Hortonworks' Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) to handle big data on the cloud.

"A key goal for both companies is to enable hybrid cloud computing," said Zannos. This will enable "the choice of on-premise or on-cloud computing for enterprise customers, with large-scale deployments that span both private infrastructure and public infrastructure. Ubuntu is a key part of that strategy. There are more big data solutions on Ubuntu than any other platform. All of this means minimal effort for Ubuntu customers to run their existing on-premise analytics workloads on Azure HDInsight."

Why should Microsoft bother with Ubuntu since it already has HDInsight running on Windows? Zannos explained, "Customers appreciate choice. Every substantial institution will use both Windows and Linux and wants the flexibility to choose the right platform for the workload. Having that choice in platform is very important to the marketplace. The collaboration between Microsoft and Canonical to create the option to run Azure HDInsight workloads on Ubuntu for Windows gives Azure customers flexibility in their big data processing decisions, both on premise, and in the cloud."

There you have it. In 2015, Microsoft has recognized that its users wants a choice between Linux and Windows applications even on its own cloud. This has nothing to do with believing in Linux as being the one true operating system. It has everything to do with delivering the services and choices its customers want.

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