Microsoft Further Embraces Open Source by Joining Linux Foundation
Such a move would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
They were once mortal enemies. Now they're BFFs.
Microsoft used to shun open source technology, which it saw as a threat to its Windows empire. How far in the past those days have become was made starkly clear earlier this week, when it made an announcement that it had joined the Linux Foundation.
Microsoft is now a Platinum member of that nonprofit organization, according to an announcement by the Linux Foundation. In addition, John Gossman, a Microsoft Azure architect, has joined the board of directors. The Linux Foundation is an advocacy organization focused on fostering open source development projects as well as Linux education programs.
The Linux Foundation's executive director offered a positive statement about Microsoft's new role.
"Microsoft has grown and matured in its use of and contributions to open source technology," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, in a released statement. "The company has become an enthusiastic supporter of Linux and of open source and a very active member of many important projects. Membership is an important step for Microsoft, but also for the open source community at large, which stands to benefit from the company's expanding range of contributions."
Microsoft has contributed to various Linux Foundation-sponsored projects, including "Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight, Open Container Initiative, R Consortium and Open API Initiative," per the announcement.
More Linux Support
Microsoft's Linux love also affected its Visual Studio development environment solutions. Microsoft announced a release candidate version of Visual Studio 2017 for Windows, but it also announced a preview of a mobile app dev suite called "Visual Studio Mobile Center" for Android, iOS and Windows. The Linux embrace was perhaps best illustrated with Microsoft's announcement today of a new Visual Studio for Mac preview that was built from scratch to support the Mac platform.
Today, Microsoft also announced it is previewing SQL Server on Linux. It also released Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2016 on Windows Server.
Azure Loves Linux
The open source love has spilled into Microsoft Azure, Microsoft's datacenter platform serving up compute, storage and orchestration technologies, as well as developer solutions.
The Azure App Service, which provides resources for mobile and Web application developers, now lets them use customized containers. Previously, the service just supported default containers. The Azure App Service supports Node.js, PHP and ASP.NET Core containers. The base container for ASP.NET Core is a new addition to the Azure App Service that was announced today, supporting both Windows and Linux. On the Linux side, developers get the benefit of container support. "The main advantage of running it on the Linux option is that you can deploy to App Service using containers," Microsoft's announcement explained.
Microsoft Azure represents one good reason why Microsoft's professed love for Linux may fall into the "true love" category. Essentially, Azure is how Microsoft monetizes Linux.
The Azure love was characterized by Steve Guggenheimer, a Microsoft corporate vice president, who recounted Microsoft's many recent Linux contributions in an announcement today.
"These recent announcements are the latest of many investments Microsoft has made over the past several years to make Azure an open and flexible cloud platform, with deep and broad support for open source tools and technologies," Guggenheimer stated. "In fact, nearly one in three Azure virtual machines are running Linux today and 60% of the images in the Azure Marketplace are Linux-based."
Guggenheimer's one-in-three Azure Linux virtual machine statistic is up from the one-in-five figure that was announced last year by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Microsoft's Linux collaborations have been piling up in recent years. The company delivered .NET Core 1.0 as open source code. It enabled the Linux Bash shell to run on natively on Windows 10. It released PowerShell as open source code for Linux and Mac. In addition, Linux distro provider Red Hat even has a team located on Microsoft's Redmond campus headquarters. Microsoft now claims to be "a leading open source contributor on GitHub," an open source code repository.
Microsoft isn't the only cloud service provider that sees reasons to embrace alternative platforms. Today Google announced that it has joined the .NET Foundation and will participate as part of its Technical Steering Group.
"We're excited to work with the industry to contribute to .NET as an excellent open platform for developers in the enterprise," Google explained in its announcement, adding that ".NET is a key component in the modern enterprise, and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) team has worked hard to ensure that .NET has first-class support on Google's infrastructure, including excellent infrastructure for Windows."
The .NET Foundation, in an announcement, described Google as "one of the most active contributors outside of Microsoft" to its efforts over the last two years. Google is also fostering ECMA standardization for C#, it added.
The .NET Foundation also noted contributions from Samsung, which joined the Technical Steering Group in June. Samsung recently added .NET Core support for its Tizen operating system, along with Visual Studio tools support for Tizen, which is used in Internet of Things types of devices.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.