Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

Summary: 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.

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This headline is not an error. I didn't have one too many craft brews over the New Year's weekend.

Microsoft is poised to enable customers to make virtual machines (VMs) persistent on Windows Azure, I've heard from a handful of my contacts who've asked not to be identified.

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. Microsoft is planning to launch a Community Technology Preview (CTP) test-build of the persistent VM capability in the spring of 2012, according to partners briefed by the company.

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.

Windows Azure already has support for a VM role, but it's not very useful at the moment. (I guess that explains Microsoft officials' reticence to comment on any of my questions about Azure's VM role support, in spite of my repeated requests.)

"The current VM role when rebooted or randomly recycled by the Azure platform loses any data stored -- any persistence. So for applications that rely on the machine name or files/config that constitute "state" not stored in SQL Azure (or externally), this is a problem. This is also one of the technical reasons why you wouldn't try running SharePoint on the current Azure VM role," explained one partner, who requested anonymity.

To date, Microsoft has been balking at customer requests to add persistent VMs to Azure, hoping to get customers to develop Azure apps from scratch instead. But the lack of the ability to host apps like SharePoint and other third-party business applications with persistence was a deal breaker for a number of business users who were unwilling to consider Azure until Microsoft added this support, one of my contacts said.

Running Linux on Azure has been a surprisingly big  business-customer request, as well, my contacts said. Microsoft won't be supporting Linux once the late-March persistent VM CTP launches; instead, it will be up to customers to provide uploads of their own Linux images, I heard from my contacts. Microsoft plans to tout the persistent VM capability on Azure as providing users with an easy on-ramp to its cloud platform, as they can start with the apps they already have and host them without a lot of reworking.

The Register reported earlier this year that Microsoft was testing the ability to run Linux on Azure in its own labs, and that the launch of such a capability was still months away.

I've asked Microsoft to confirm its upcoming persistent VM plans, but I'm not holding my breath. Update on January 3: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company would not comment on "rumors." But it sure seems like the information is on the money, given this Microsoft solutions architect for Windows Azure's reaction:

If you are still a doubter that this is coming, here's a snippet from an Azure roadmap that one of my contacts shared with me which mentions the capability:

(Click on snippet to enlarge)

Microsoft cloud competitor Amazon already offers the ability to run different operating systems, including Windows, SQL Server, and Linux, on its EC2 infrastructure-as-a-service platform.

Does Microsoft's pending infrastructure-as-a-service addition of a persistent VM make you any more interested in Windows Azure?

Topics: Linux, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Microsoft, Open Source, Virtualization, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

    " Running Linux on Azure has been a surprisingly big business-customer request ..."<br><br>They had no choice.<br><br>PS. Linux attaches itself to everything.

    Happy New Year MJ!
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • Thanks

      Happy New Year to you, as well! MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Will end up like IronPython / IronRuby support

        Remember how MSFT was supposed to support those two along with C# and VB.net? They did it for a while and then dropped it once it's clear that there's no traction in that direction.
        LBiege
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Return_of_the_jedi - Linux attaches itself to everything.
      LOL. Yes, remember, Steve said it was a virus!
      The Danger is Microsoft
      • Yep.

        @The Danger is Microsoft <br>Those are his words, not mine.<br>He want's to know is there an AV software for Linux.
        Linux will soon infect Azure.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

        Actually he said it was "a cancer".

        No cure for it, is there Steve?

        lol...
        ScorpioBlue
    • Loverock Davidson said Linux is only 1% so if he's correct

      Why are they bothering .....1% means nothing in the real word according to Lovie and he claims never to be wrong ....just ask him
      Over and Out
  • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

    However it is funny they are using an OS they hate or is that just BS for the rest of us?
    Randalllind
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Randalllind - They're not "using" Linux - they're merely allowing you to upload and run your Linux VM's in Azure.
      bitcrazed
  • And what is wrong with that? IBM and Dell sell you hardware

    @Joe.Smetona
    as they do not care what you run on it once purchased. Why is that acceptable for everyone else, but not Microsoft.
    Even Apple made it possible to Run Windows on a Mac, as once you purchase their hardware, they made their profit.

    I hear no complaints from you against them, so why Microsoft?.
    :|
    Tim Cook
    • Microsoft has a history that I know.

      @Mister Spock ...Microsoft is all about money, control, power, growth. Microsoft-ZDNet does not care about it's users as evidenced by their treatment of the TDL-4 botnet infections. In Microsoft's eyes the 4.5 million infected users are expendable. What's so commendable about that? Maybe you can find that much sought after article from ZDnet about the TDL-4 infections that I was requesting here for 9 months?<br><br>Look what is happening now with Android. It is indisputable how ZDNet acts as a propaganda outlet for Microsoft. I see other publications openly provide Microsoft news and topics. That's fine, but presenting an entity as objective and then using propaganda techniques is unacceptable. This is especially true for the younger or less computer skilled readers.<br><br>I use Google for almost everything, including DNS. I'd like one Google attacker to give me explicit evidence that they did something wrong. My Gmail has 68,828 emails all in the cloud. I use Google calendar for important information. Everything is instantly searchable and best yet, everything Google runs on Linux. I write an email about some semiconductors and I get some text ads for semiconductor suppliers. That's not an invasion of privacy. I don't restrict anything I write about in Gmail. <br><br>My point: Use Microsoft if you want with their system running on Microsoft, or you can use Google cloud running on Linux, which I happen to prefer. Anything Microsoft is great ... until it gets broken into. With that many (mostly technical) emails, sorted and grouped by labels and filters, I know the history of Microsoft.
      Joe.Smetona
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Mister Spock

      I would agree, but how would you support a software that your a in ongoing disputes with said software. On claims that its usually stolen IP ? ?
      Anthony E
    • Typical biased nonsense.

      @Joe.Smetona

      Whats indisputable is the sheer number of people around ZDnet who again and again say just how good the Android phones are. What is indisputable is the sheer multitude of people ZDnet tolerates coming on here and making Microsoft out to be something like an absolute crook while they make Linux/Google/Android sound like the sun rises and sets on their butt.

      Of course Microsoft is profit driven, much like Apple, HP, Asus, Samsung, Sony and yes..Google along with vast numbers of others. I use and have used Hotmail for a decade and have far far more emails then you do in the cloud. I have used Windows as well as Linux and I commend Linux (I used SUSE) for putting out a really great free OS, but it isn't as good and Windows version ANY. If Linux suits your needs, great, use it, its very good for what it is and its free, to that extent I recommend it.

      As far as Google goes...its not as good, even generally as what its cracked up to be. I started migrating to Bing quite a number of months back and now I cant even recall the last time I used Google and have ZERO urge to do so.

      Android as an OS is interesting to say the least. Your post though reeks of shooting the messenger when the messenger occasionally brings a message that doesn't meet your personal ideals. Again, sorry but Android just isn't that good, at least not yet. Its good enough and something for Google to take some pride in but you had better get used to the criticism until Android tightens up on a number of issues thats keeping the OS as a "good enough to the real deal gets here" solution.

      While you may know the history of Microsoft it clearly has taught you nothing. First of all, work from the perspective that whatever the history of MS, they are still here and still strong. What you really don't seem to have learned is the inescapable fact that where Google is trying to get, MS has already been. If you don't think Google is not going to take some massive security hits in the years to come, you really do live in dream land.

      One suggestion; WAKE UP.
      Cayble
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Cayble
      What is Google trying to get to that Microsoft has been there?
      daikon
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Cayble

      There is a paragraph in your post that to me sounds very similar to another OS, lets see what it looks like when I change a few words.

      "Again, sorry but windows just isn't that good, at least not yet. Its good enough and something for microsoft to take some pride in but you had better get used to the criticism until windows tightens up on a number of issues thats keeping the OS as a "good enough to the real deal gets here" solution."

      Aren't personal opinions just great, everyones got one.
      guzz46
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Cayble

      When I search on Bing and then search on Google, I get two different sets of results. And the Bing results are unacceptable. Period. YMMV.
      benched42
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      "Microsoft is all about money, control, power, growth. "

      You can accuse pretty much every business of that.

      "Microsoft-ZDNet does not care about it's users as evidenced by their treatment of the TDL-4 botnet infections."

      There is no "Microsoft-ZDNet." I'd be surprised if Microsoft pays any attention to ZDNet.

      In any case, that's old news now. Move on.

      "It is indisputable how ZDNet acts as a propaganda outlet for Microsoft."

      It is equally indisputable that you're rather grumpy about this, and refuse to move forward.
      CobraA1
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Mister Spock ....
      Microsoft is primarily a software company, by allowing you to remove their OS, they are losing a source of revenue.

      The traditional Apple MAC, is a hardware outlet. They didn't care what you did, as long as you paid the big bucks for their version of a PC.

      Now that they are changing into a content firm, as in the iPhone/iPad, there is NO way that you would see Apple allowing another OS to be used.

      When/If the MAC changes to a similar OS, and lowers it's price to match normal PC vendors, then there is no way that a rival OS would be allowed.
      Sean_Ssss
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      @Cayble - LOL nicely done. Joe well look at his logo...that pretty much says it all.
      ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Microsoft to enable Linux on its Windows Azure cloud in 2012

      [i]You can accuse pretty much every business of that.[/i]

      But none of them have monopolized the desktop market for the last 20 years, which puts them in a category all their own. It's a product one can't avoid in corporate America out there.

      [i]There is no "Microsoft-ZDNet." I'd be surprised if Microsoft pays any attention to ZDNet.[/i]

      Based on the amount of their Flash ads I see here when I turn Adblock off, I beg to differ.

      [i]In any case, that's old news now. Move on.[/i]

      Nope.

      [i]It is equally indisputable that you're rather grumpy about this, and refuse to move forward.[/i]

      No, you'd just rather have him shut up and not say anything, right?
      ScorpioBlue