Azure features Linux, open source offerings

SUSE, CentOS, Ubuntu, and open source stacks featured

Ubuntu, CentOS, and the SUSE Linux family of distributions are among the Linux virtual machines (VMs) that will be supported by the Windows Azure service, according to a blog announcement from Microsoft today.

The post, penned by Corporate VP of Server and Cloud Bill Laing. detailed the new services that Microsoft plans to unwrap in a webcast tomorrow at 1300 PDT. Among those features will be persistent virtual machines that can be Windows Server, Linux, SQL Server, or SharePoint instances.

These Linux distributions won't be the only open source software featured on Azure; according to Laing, the Windows Azure Web Sites service will enable "easy deployment of open source applications like WordPress, Joomla!, DotNetNuke, Umbraco, and Drupal to the cloud with a few clicks."

According to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, "[t]he new persistent VMs will allow users to run OpenSUSE 12.1, CentOS 6.2, Ubuntu 12.04 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server [SLES] 11 SP."

For its part, SUSE is noting the release, but is also taking a business-as-usual approach to the face that Microsoft is deploying Linux on its cloud service.

"If you want to be in the public cloud space," explained SUSE Sr. Cloud Manager Peter Chadwick, "you need to offer users choice."

For Chadwick and his colleagues then, the fact that Microsoft went with Linux distributions was something that simply had to happen. And while SUSE is looking forward to getting more business through another public cloud channel like Azure, for them it's about the twentieth such public cloud offering--one of the many channels that comprises SUSE overall cloud strategy.

It won't be just hosting SLES and openSUSE, either, said Doug Jarvis, Marketing Manager of SUSE's Cloud Solutions. SUSE Studio users will be able to put together SLES servers within Studio and deploy them right in an Azure account with just a few clicks.

There has been no word from Canonical on how far they will be participating in the Azure platform, so for not SUSE is the only commercial enterprise Linux vendor getting out with their message. CentOS' presence is notable is only because it could preclude Red Hat's presence on Azure, though this is pure speculation on my part.

It's not the end of the world that Red Hat won't be on Azure, if this is indeed the case. (And I think it unlikely they will be on the just-announced Oracle Cloud, either.) There are lots of other public cloud channels out there.

What's interesting to me is that public clouds are simply starting to differentiate themselves like any hardware vendor in terms of what operating systems they support. The good news for Linux, of course, is that the free software operating system dominates platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service channels, with far more presence than it has on actual servers.

Cloud computing isn't for everyone, of course, but to see Linux so pervasive on so many public cloud services is a pretty nice thing to see. With maybe more than a little irony that Azure will be offering Linux, too.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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