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Microsoft-owned LinkedIn commits to multi-year, all-in move to Azure public cloud

Professional social networking site reveals plans to move all its workloads to the Microsoft public cloud over the next few years

Microsoft-owned social networking site LinkedIn is in the process of a multi-year move to go all-in on its parent company’s public cloud platform, Azure.

The platform, which is reportedly used by 645 million members worldwide to find jobs and build work contacts, is known to rely on a mix of its own datacentres and colocation facilities for hosting at present, with supplementary support from Azure.

However, to ensure the organisation has the infrastructure capacity to cope with the growth of its business and number of site users, Mohak Shroff, senior vice-president of engineering at LinkedIn, said now is the time for the firm to ramp up its public cloud use.

“Today’s technology landscape makes the need for constant reinvention paramount, especially as we look to scale our infrastructure to drive the next stage of LinkedIn’s growth,” he said in a blog post.

“With the incredible member and business growth we are seeing, we have decided to begin a multi-year migration of all LinkedIn workloads to the public cloud.”

The decision to go all-in on Azure is notable, given how actively LinkedIn has contributed in recent years to initiatives geared towards transforming the way datacentres are built to ready the industry to cope with the reliability and scaling demands of the hyperscale community.

These include its role as one of the founders of the Open19 Foundation, which was set up in May 2017 to help accelerate the adoption of open source technologies within datacentres that can be retrofitted into existing 19in server racks.

In March 2019, LinkedIn confirmed that its Open19 technology specifications – which include a defined 19in server form factor design – are being donated to fellow open source datacentre champion the Open Compute Project (OCP).  This coincided with news of its decision to join the OCP as a member.

Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26bn in December 2016, there has been speculation about whether this might signal that LinkedIn’s commitment to maintaining its own datacentre infrastructure might be coming to an end, and that a move to Azure might be on the cards.

Read more about cloud migration plans

Microsoft referenced drawing on LinkedIn to bolster the capabilities of its cloud-based Dynamics and Office 365 business applications at the time the deal was announced in June 2016.

However, subsequent blog posts put out by its engineering team in recent years have suggested that the firm was committed to continuing to run its own datacentre for the foreseeable future – until now.

“In recent years, we have leveraged a number of Azure technologies in ways that have had a notable impact on our business,” said Shroff.  

“That success, coupled with the opportunity to leverage the relationship we have built with Microsoft, made Azure the obvious choice. Moving to Azure will give us access to a wide array of hardware and software innovations, and unprecedented global scale.”

He added: “This will position us to focus on areas where we can deliver unique value to our members and customers. The cloud holds the future for us and we are confident that Azure is the right platform to build on for years to come.”

Read more on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

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