Windows Azure's spring fling: Linux comes to Microsoft's cloud

Windows Azure's spring fling: Linux comes to Microsoft's cloud

Summary: Microsoft is peeling back the covers, at long last, of its Windows Azure spring update, with new Linux VM and hosting framework support.

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TOPICS: Cloud
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It's official: Those Linux on Azure and and other goodies that have been on Redmond's cloud roadmap for months (and in some cases, years) finally are coming to a Microsoft cloud near you.

Microsoft officials went public with details on its Windows Azure spring update a day ahead of a Webcast slated to detail all the announcements via a blog post from Server and Cloud chief Bill Laing.

Laing's post made it clear Windows Azure is no longer a pure platform-as-a-service (PaaS) play, if it ever really was one. Now it also has elements of infrastructure-as-a-service, which Microsoft is hoping will make Azure more appealing to developers and users of Amazon Web Services and other existing and coming cloud platforms.

With the Spring update, the Softies are out to drive home the idea that Microsoft is serious about supporting not just its own, but third-party and open-source languages and stacks with Windows Azure. Microsoft already supported Linux, Java, PHP and other non-Microsoft technologies on Azure to varying degrees. But with the spring update, that support is now more deeply baked into the platform in a way that is meant to attract developers and customers of all stripes.

Microsoft is allowing users to bring certain Linux and Windows Server images (including SQL Server and SharePoint) to Azure in persistent virtual machines (VMs). Update: The new persistent VMs will allow users to run OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2. They also will allow users to run Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate.

Another key piece of today's announcement is Antares, which is a new hosting framework that Microsoft has built for Windows Azure and Windows Server.

Antares -- officially known as Windows Azure Web Sites -- includes updated REST programming interfaces that will allow developers to do more programatically and systematically. Microsoft is encouraging developers to use this framework to seamlessly move existing apps and services -- including those hosted on other rival clouds -- to Azure.

Besides the persistent VM and hosting framework, what else is Microsoft announcing as part of this week's Azure unveiling?

Windows Azure Virtual Network: a feature allowing the provisioning and management of VPNs in Azure, and to extend securely on-premises networks into the cloud. I believe this is the Azure Connect offering, originally codenamed Project Sydney, which was supposed to be out before the end of 2011 in final form.

More cross-platform interoperability: Availability of an update to the Eclipse plugin for Java, MongoDB integration, Memcached using non-.NET languages, and code configuration for hosting Solr/Lucene. See the new post on Microsoft's Port 25 blog for more details.

Windows Azure SQL Reporting: This is the renamed and finally available SQL Azure Reporting Services feature. It's the cloud complement to SQL Server Reporting Services.

Updated Windows Azure software development kit (SDK): Now with new command-line tools that work on Mac or Linux operating systems. Cross another one off the Azure cloud roadmap. Done!

On a related note, Red Hat also made a hybrid cloud announcement today. The Microsoft rival declared its CloudForms Infrastructure-as-a-Service hybrid cloud management platform is now generally available. And Oracle also jumped into the cloud fray today, as well, with announcement of a bunch of tangibles (and aspirations) for its public-cloud Oracle Cloud.

Topic: Cloud

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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29 comments
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  • Choice

    Brought to you by Microsoft
    Your Non Advocate
  • Stroking out

    Brought to you by Loverock.
    Pete&Pete
    • Marcia!

      Its always Marcia Marcia Marcia!
      Loverock Davidson-
  • This is great news

    This just further illustrates how the once-impenetrable permafrost that separated Microsoft from Open-Source is now melting and that Microsoft is on-board the open-source train.

    By allowing customers using a variety of dev tools & languages to take full advantage of the Azure infrastructure, platform and fabric, whilst also allowing them to incorporate Linux VM's into a given scenario, Microsoft is making Azure a really compelling platform upon which to build next-generation cloud systems.
    bitcrazed
  • Windows Azure's spring fling: Linux comes to Microsoft's cloud

    One step closer to getting people to migrate from linux to Microsoft Windows.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Nah.

      [i]One step closer to getting people to migrate from linux to Microsoft Windows.[/i]

      Microsoft just sees the writing on the wall. They're offering Linux to keep up with the times. Don't worry, they'll support those legacy Windows systems for a while longer before phasing them out.. ;)
      BP314
      • RE: Nah

        When I read:

        [i]One step closer to getting people to migrate from linux to Microsoft Windows.[/i]

        the mouthful of coffee flew out through my nostrils. Co-workers on either side of me were concerned that something bad had happened to me.

        LD, you never cease to amuse me.

        At WROK PALCE, we can't nuke the WindblowZE systems fast enough. The procedure requires surgical gloves and masks. Once you open up the box, remove the entire hard drive, put it into a anti-static bag, and then put the whole thing is a biohazard bag for proper disposal. The medical waste handlers look at us strangely when they see the hard drives inside the biohazard bags.

        </satire&gt:
        fatman65536
    • Just Like Office for iPad?

      Will that be one step closer to people migrating from Apple to Microsoft?

      LOL you're a joke.
      Pete&Pete
    • Windows Azure's spring fling: Linux comes to Microsoft's cloud

      why is this voted so down? trolls here definitely
      other *
  • SSRS

    Hi MJ,
    "It???s the cloud complement to SQL Azure Reporting Services."

    Think you mean "SQL Server Reporting Services"
    jamiet
    • thanks

      You are right! Fixing... Thanks
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Where's Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server?

    From the article:
    [i]The new persistent VMs will allow users to run OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2.[/i]

    SUSE, CentOS (a RHEL derivative) via OpenLogic and Ubuntu are in.

    I am aware of Microsoft's partnership with Attachmate (formerly Novell) regarding SUSE Linux. Is there a partnership between Microsoft and Canonical regarding Ubuntu Linux that I missed? SJVN, where are you?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • RedHat wouldn't sign their "patent" agreement

      MS is still sulking.

      Still little to recommend Azure, same as the pack except for the extensive pricing calculator (remind anyone else of the windows server/CALs licensing?).
      Richard Flude
      • Pricing?

        Have you seen the complexity of the Amazon Elastic Beanstalk pricing? That is fairly comparable to Azure Web Sites in complexity of the offering.

        http://aws.amazon.com/elasticbeanstalk/#pricing

        Now compare that to Microsoft's Azure Web site pricing:
        https://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/calculator/ (make note that 10 minimal websites (1GB storage, 185MB daily bandwidth etc) are free - you need to choose Reserved to see the pricing for reserved compute power.

        Which one is more complex?
        henningp
      • Cost

        You hit on the head. How could I recommend this to someone with all the licensing that goes along with it when you can get comparable systems on Linux hosting with little cost????? Am I missing the boat?
        marionspd
    • Their customers will change that ....

      Microsoft was forced by customer demand to include Linux ... ignoring RedHat won't cut it ... I would not be surprised if RedHat offerings are not back room deals. This is just another monopolistic method of "trying to force fragmentation of the Linux market and cost RedHat market share".
      BrentRBrian
  • This Is Just Start!

    I think Microsoft knows that the days of having the market share is over and this is just a start of what is in the near future. Think about it, if they start offering Linux with one product they are going to implement it accross their whole market. They know that Windows 8 will be a flop and that their days are numbered.
    marlorcomp
    • Microsoft is not dominant on servers

      Unlike on the desktop, on servers there is room for growth.

      This is about the cloud - not desktop OSes. On the desktop they are as large as they can hope to become. But for servers there still are a lot of Linux and Unix servers which could be replaced with Microsoft ones.

      But first you need to get the customers into the fold. And you do that by offering them to migrate - first their existing infrastructure - and then to the OS which offer superior manageability.
      honeymonster
      • RE: Microsoft is not dominant on servers

        [i]But first you need to get the customers into the fold. And you do that by offering them to migrate - first their existing infrastructure - [u]and then to the OS which offer superior manageability[/u].[/i]

        Except that Linux (for example, check out Dell's ARM servers running Ubuntu 12-04 LTS) already runs on ARM servers. Clouds and data centers, with their very large energy requirements, will migrate to ARM servers. Where's Microsoft on ARM today? Windows RT and Xbox.

        And don't forget that enterprises with mixed shops running Windows and Linux servers also have the option of using Amazon's and other's cloud services. Not all enterprises will move to Azure.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Going a little too far.

      "I think Microsoft knows that the days of having the market share is over and this is just a start of what is in the near future."

      Having the market share? Do you mean having the most market share, some market share?

      "They know that Windows 8 will be a flop and that their days are numbered."

      I don't think anyone knows what will happend with Windows 8, and Microsoft seems to be commited to making it a success.
      bmonsterman