Microsoft makes Azure open source friendly

Microsoft has taken steps to make its Azure cloud service more like infrastructure as a service, with support for Linux tools

Microsoft will support Ubuntu and OpenSuse virtual machines on the latest version of its Azure cloud service.

In a massive departure from its previous stance, the company appears to be supporting open source tools and the Linux operating system on its Azure cloud platform. The move could make Azure a viable alternative to Amazon AWS and Rackspace.

In the latest preview of Azure Microsoft now provides persistent Virtual Machines, enabling businesses to run their existing Windows and Linux-based applications in the cloud. In addition it has extended database support from its own Windows Azure SQL database to support MySQL. Microsoft’s support of open source goes further, by allowing developers to deploy applications on Windows Azure in the languages and on the platforms of their choice. It is providing libraries for Java and Python in addition to support of .NET, PHP and Node.js. Updated language libraries are being made available under open source licenses.

Microsoft has also said it is supporting Eclipse, the open source development framework, and is providing a plug-in for MongoDB, the NoSQL database. The updated Windows Azure software developer’s kit also includes new command-line tools that Microsoft said work on Mac or Linux operating systems.

In his latest blog post, Forrester principal analyst, James Staten noted that the changes to Azure illustrate that Microsoft has finally joined the mainstream by adding a full Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering to enable customers to deploy just about anything. “The new IaaS service is clearly designed with at least surface knowledge of the market leaders, Amazon Web Services, Rackspace and others, and leverages a much more mature Hyper-V as the virtualisation layer. Both Windows and Linux are supported) as the guest OS and you can deploy directly from a Mac or Linux machine.”

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