Not a typo: ​Microsoft is offering a Linux certification

Believe it or not, Microsoft is offering a Linux on its Azure cloud certification.

Right after Microsoft releasing MS-Linux, a few years ago I would have said the next most unlikely thing for Microsoft to do would be to offer a Linux certification. Guess what? They are.

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Yes, there's now a joint Microsoft Linux certification. Who would have imagined this even a year ago?

On December 9, Microsoft released a Linux certification: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure. You know what's even more amazing? Microsoft created this certifcation with the help of the The Linux Foundation. Maybe dogs and cats can live together!

This important step in broadening the technology integration between Microsoft and the open-source community is another sign that this is not your or Bill Gates' Microsoft. Why would Microsoft do this? Well, it's not because Microsoft has become Google+ buddies with Linus Torvalds.

Microsoft continues its pivot to being all about cloud services

It's not over for Windows and devices. But Microsoft's future is increasingly about the cloud and subscriptions, as its financials and corporate priorities show.

As Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's cloud program, said recently, "It's obvious, if we don't support Linux, we'll be Windows only and that's not practical." He continued, "last fall one in five instances on Azure were Linux. Today, about a year later, one in four instances are Linux." In short, Microsoft fully supporting Linux on the cloud is simply good business.

To get this new Linux on Azure certification, you'll need to pass both the Microsoft Exam 70-533 (Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions) and the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) exam. The certification will be issued by Microsoft. To pass the pair you'll need both Linux administration and Microsoft Azure implementation skills

"The Linux Foundation is the leading organization representing stakeholder interests in the open source ecosystem. That, combined with its proven commitment to professional, distribution-flexible and performance-based certifications, makes it a natural choice for our partner for Linux on Azure certifications," said Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft's chief evangelist in a statement.

Microsoft expects, as do I, that many people will be trying for this certification.

Microsoft now offers support for eight Linux distributions running on Azure. Those are: Canonical Ubuntu, CentOS, CoreOS, Oracle Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and openSUSE. Recently Microsoft also added support for Debian GNU/Linux (Did anyone expect to see Microsoft GNU Linux?) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Azure users can also provision their own Linux distributions from the command line, besides the vendor-backed, endorsed distros and Azure Marketplace pre-packaged Linux distributions.

"Today's IT environments demand more from professionals than ever before, and the ones equipped to manage this new landscape look to professional certifications to rise above the rest," said Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation's executive director in a statement. "A Microsoft-issued certification that includes the Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin exam will most definitely allow professionals to stand apart from their peers and allow them the opportunity to work on the most interesting technologies of our time."

More information about this new Microsoft certification can be found on Microsoft's Linux certification page. Candidates can register for the LFCS exam and the Microsoft Exam 70-533 immediately.

Who knows? Maybe we will see a Microsoft Linux distribution sometime in 2016.

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