Microsoft's Azure platform falls short for Linux

Recently it was announced that Microsoft is going to support Linux on its Azure cloud platform. At first glance, this sounds great, right?
Written by Chris Clay Clay, Contributor

Recently it was announced that Microsoft is going to support Linux on its Azure cloud platform. At first glance, this sounds great, right? Microsoft supporting Linux with its own software. We've heard in recent times of Microsoft providing code to the Linux kernel, and this is what they have been preparing for: to support Linux on Azure. It hasn't really been for the benefit of the open source community as some would like to think. In fact, there was some controversy regarding the code that Microsoft submitted to the Linux kernel, in that they were forced to do so after being caught using drivers that fall under the GPL (GNU General Public License). The code submitted for the kernel will ensure that Linux support is seamless on Azure.

But, this offering by Microsoft for Linux support on Azure comes up short, as one of the largest players in the corporate GNU/Linux world has its distributions scratched from Microsoft's list, and that is of Red Hat. If you look at the list of distributions that Microsoft is supporting, it includes:

Suse Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2 OpenSuse 12.01 CentOS 6.2 Ubuntu 12.04

You will probably notice that Red Hat Enterprise and Fedora, two very large and popular distributions that are released by Red Hat, are not mentioned anywhere. Yet CentOS is, which is based on Red Hat Enterprise but is assembled by a third party and released at no cost. While I can somewhat understand why Fedora may not be included (because it's generally thought of a cutting edge distribution that may contain more bugs and be more suited to the desktop over the server), Red Hat Enterprise is rock solid in the business world and has been for many years. What's going on here, and why in the world would Microsoft exclude them? Many rumours are circulating about that it has been done intentionally because Red Hat is a direct competitor to Microsoft in corporate software. The theory is that Microsoft is trying to steer Azure users away from Red Hat.

I think this will end up backfiring on Microsoft. Since Red Hat Enterprise and Fedora are two of the most common distributions used, Microsoft is shutting the door on potential customers. Maybe they are not concerned with this, but if Microsoft had good intentions of supporting open source that everybody says they just "love" so much, then they should support the more popularly used distributions. But, it is what it is, and thankfully there are alternatives that provide cloud services so ultimately the customers have a choice to choose which platform will run the software they choose.

Overall though, I don't think there is really any reason to worry in the least bit. Red Hat doesn't seem to be too concerned either. Red Hat is more focused on its own cloud platform, OpenShift. I'm sure more details and changes will surface as these services mature.

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