"Microsoft recognizes that their customers run more than just Windows in their enterprise, and this is an opportunity for Windows Azure to run as many workloads as possible," said Wade Wegner, chief technology officer for Aditi Technologies, a technology services company and Microsoft partner. "The cloud provides a way to make it easier to connect all of these different platforms and technologies, and my take is that Microsoft is trying to make Windows Azure the best and simplest place to run your applications regardless of the platform or technology."
The partnership may benefit Linux as well.
"There are customers who view Microsoft as their principal IT provider, and they will want to work with Microsoft," said Peter Chadwick, Suse senior product manager for cloud operations. "We've been working with Microsoft on interoperability, so this is a logical extension to that."
Open-source support company OpenLogic is providing CentOS for the Azure portal. CentOS is a clone of the enterprise-focused Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution. (Red Hat did not respond to queries to comment on the Azure announcement.) OpenLogic has provided commercial support for CentOS since 2009, along with 600 other open-source programs. For Microsoft, OpenLogic will support all the running instances of CentOS, which includes providing Azure with the latest version of CentOS. Users will be able to update their CentOS virtual machines from a repository of patches that OpenLogic will maintain on Azure. Microsoft has contracted OpenLogic to provide support, initially, for a set monthly fee, said Steve Grandchamp, CEO of OpenLogic.
The Linux virtual machines are now offered in technology preview mode, so pricing has not been announced. The images will be persistent, meaning they can be shut down and reopened without loss of data. In addition to the virtual machine images of selected distributions, users will be able to import their own Linux builds through Microsoft's Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) capability, according to the announcement posted by Microsoft.
The release also mentions that Azure now supports both Python and Java, as well as Web development technologies such as Node.js and PHP, which will pave the way for easy use of Web content management tools such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.