Historically, Microsoft´s relationship with Open Source has not been harmonious and left room for improvement. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft found in Open Source a new ally that has served both as a catalyzer and a magnet to attract hordes of developers to its Azure cloud platform. This strategic maneuver has been well received by the Open Source community and currently, The Linux Foundation offers a course in Linux Administration on Azure.
Microsoft reports that about half of all Azure virtual machines on its infrastructure are running Linux for their operating system. Also, the number of native Azure services are increasingly turning to Linux as well. In fact, Microsoft is betting heavily on Open Source for its Azure Machine Learning service. AML can be used from any Python environment, for example, it fully supports frameworks like PyTorch, TensorFlow, and scikit-learn. It can also integrate with Jupyter notebooks and Pycharm and it can automate machine learning on-premises or on the cloud.
As depicted in the following Gartner Magic Quadrant, it is very clear that Microsoft is gaining and closing ground to its primary competitor.
One of the core strengths behind these yearly giant leaps is its increasing support for Open Source technologies in addition to its tight integration with other Microsoft products widely used as standards in corporate environments.
Microsoft is no longer a company that exclusively supports its architectures and environments but a platform comprised of heterogeneous technologies.
In a bold move earlier this year, Microsoft acquired GitHub, further cementing a relationship with Open Source developers as well as attracting new ones. Microsoft now has access to 80 million software repositories worldwide, 27 million developers as well as 1.8 billion businesses and organizations through GitHub. The most popular centralized code repository is now owned by Microsoft but will run independently.
In order to warm up to Open Source developers even more, Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) and open-sourced 60,000 patents in a move to change its image to that of a developer-friendly tech company. The OIN is a patent group that´s dedicated to protecting Linux from lawsuits while helping developers access large technology companies like Google, IBM, NEC, Sony among nearly 2,650 firms.
Navigating directly to Azure´s Open Source landing page makes this new-found romance with Open Source unmistakably evident. On display are 6 Linux Enterprise level distributions available in Azure´s Marketplace. Documentation on Linux backends that support Node.js, Python, Java, and more. Additionally, links to documentation on how to get Docker up and running on Azure to create truly self-contained environments that can be lifted and shifted with ease. Open Source Azure real-world applications examples are also plentiful through Azure´s Case Studies website.
Microsoft´s technological strategy shift is a welcome change
With cloud based infrastructures replacing or complementing traditional ones, Azure has become a facilitator for nimble, elastic, and cost effective disparate environments on the public cloud realm.
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