Microsoft and Linux's love-in heats up as SUSE tunes kernel for Azure

SUSE has developed a custom Linux kernel tailored to Microsoft Azure.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Microsoft and Linux continue to move ever closer, with the announcement that SUSE has developed a custom Linux kernel tailored to Microsoft Azure.

The kernel improves the performance and boot speeds of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 on-demand instances running on the Azure cloud platform.

The new kernel also allows those running SLES on Azure to use the platform's latest services, such as as Accelerated Networking with SR-IOV and Write Accelerator, and should allow new services to be used as they're released, according to KY Srinivasan, general manager of the enterprise open source group at Microsoft.

"We've worked closely with SUSE to ensure customers using SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have a first-class experience with Microsoft Azure," said Srinivasan.

SUSE says running SLES 15 on Azure should deliver up to 25 percent faster network throughput and a 23 percent reduction in average latency compared to earlier releases, as well as having a smaller memory footprint.

By default, SLES 15 instances on Azure will run on this custom-tuned kernel, although users will be able to switch back to the standard kernel using the package manager, Zypper. Users will also have access to tools and resources for cloud-native deployments, available via the SUSE Public Cloud Module.

ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols has charted Microsoft's ever-closer union with Linux, which recently culminated in Microsoft releasing Azure Sphere, a product containing its own Linux kernel.

As Vaughan-Nichols points out, Microsoft has also gone all in on Linux on its Azure cloud, and by late 2017 more than 40 percent of all virtual machines on Azure were running Linux-based OSes. Today, Microsoft supports over half-a-dozen Linux distros on Azure. This includes CentOS, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), openSUSE, and Ubuntu.

The thaw in Microsoft's former hostility towards Linux, epitomized by former CEO Steve Ballmer's comment in 2001 that Linux was a 'cancer', seems to have accelerated in recent years as use of Linux-based systems has continued to spread, with the company's existing CEO Satya Nadella declaring 'Microsoft loves Linux' in 2014.

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