Azure and Linux: A match made in hybrid cloud to deliver innovation options to Aussie developers

Over a year on from their watershed decision to band together, Microsoft and Red Hat ramp up their pledge to help developers build better apps for their enterprises at cloud speed

When Microsoft committed to the Red Hat ecosystem a year ago, it was in the belief that we could help developers build apps faster and easier in the hybrid cloud to solve today’s – and tomorrow’s – most complex and urgent business problems.

This commitment to developers and an open ecosystem was further solidified at Microsoft’s annual Connect Developer Event. Here Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member with the partnership enabling it to better collaborate with the open source community, welcoming Google to the independent .NET Foundation, and working with Samsung Electronics to enable .NET developers to build apps for millions of devices worldwide.

Satya Nadella, on his first official visit to Australia this month also highlighted Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to driving digital transformation in Australia through empowering developers to deliver a new class of intelligent solutions that are helping society and business while empowering people to achieve more through technology – notably referencing the Department of Human Services and its delivery of intelligent customer experiences powered by deep learning.

To date, Microsoft has rolled out services and support to enable developers to mix Red Hat Enterprise Linux features such as its OpenShift platform-as-a-service and JBoss enterprise application platform with Microsoft technologies including .NET on Azure. This unrivalled choice and flexibility is backed by an industry first integrated support arrangement placing Red Hat and Microsoft support engineers side by side so there’s one touch point if and when issues arise. Microsoft is now a Red Hat Certified Cloud and Service Provider program partner.

I fielded many questions from IT Pros and Developers after speaking at the recent Red Hat Forum in Sydney about how Microsoft and Red Hat collaborate to support and engineer our combined offerings. Customers want to understand how we are bringing our hybrid cloud platforms to life, and want to understand the strategy for how their workloads can scale across our products within the partnership.

The simple answer is we’re enabling cloud services to host your workloads across hybrid clouds when an application is hosted on Linux. The portability of virtualised workloads in the future will be driven by containerisation and service orchestration and this is the opportunity that customers have to start early to gain value from the partnership.

To deliver great innovation, Microsoft helps developers by providing them with a choice of cloud. For instance enterprises will soon be able bring their Java based workloads running on Red Hat into Microsoft Azure and benefit from features such as; service fabric and microservices architecture, serverless compute, machine learning and predictive analytics, and Cortana Intelligence Suite. Today, developers can now run OpenShift containers whether they’re Red Hat’s own, or Docker or Kubernetes on Azure for the ultimate in portability, scalability and security.

Microsoft built Azure to democratise access to cloud services for the professional developer to provide the fastest, easiest on-ramp to innovation. Use our software development kits and application programming interfaces (APIs) to bring your Java, Python and PHP to Azure. You handle the configuration, while we manage the nuts and bolts of compute and scalability. This enables you to leverage our global, 24/7 infrastructure and services so you can focus on building great applications that add business value.

Microsoft travels with you all the way through your open source stack from infrastructure (Red Hat, Ubuntu, Suse), containers (Docker, Kubernetes, CoreOS), databases and middleware (Cloudera, Cassandra) to frameworks (Java, node.js), DevOps (Chef, Puppet, Ansible) and Platforms (Terraform, Cloud Foundry). We want to enable you to use the open source tools you prefer, mix the with Azure’s cloud storage, virtual machines and networking, so that you can achieve your vision faster.

Road ahead to hybrid cloud: How Microsoft Azure furthers open source

The rate of adoption of open source on Azure is phenomenal: almost one in three workloads are now Linux. We have customers leading their digital transformation building new products and customer experiences, all the way through to enterprise-wide, line-of-business systems using Linux and cross-platform development tools to deliver on Azure. This is a huge change for Microsoft and we’re thrilled at how the open source community has embraced us.

But this is just the start of our journey into open source and the hybrid cloud with Red Hat and the open source community. Just as we launched the .NET Foundation, we’re serious about bringing more projects into the open source community, such as:

  • The public preview of a new Azure Bot service was announced by Nadella, which enables developers to build, deploy and manage bots on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
  • Azure’s N-Series will be available in December and is already being used by OpenAI, the non-profit AI research organisation focussed on developing safe AI solutions for widespread application.
  • SQL Server 2016 on Linux – Microsoft will bring our leading data management and business analytics platform to Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server by the mid-calendar year 2017 (a public preview is available now). This dovetails with our commitment to deliver a consistent data platform on Windows Server and Linux, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud.
  • Apache Hadoop – Microsoft is a contributor to the big data project and we work with partners like Cloudera and Hortonworks to spread its use in the enterprise. We’re also integrating further functionality, backed by our own acquisition of Revolution Analytics to integrate R services for predictive analytics. We have also partnered with Hortonworks, to engineer and build Microsoft’s managed Hadoop, Spark, Hive, R, HBase and Storm cloud service, HDInsight.
  • Cortana – Our cognitive services in the cloud opens new possibilities for integration to sight, voice, and language understanding to interpret the environment around you, whether that be a live video feed, such as closed-circuit TV security footage, or understanding the sentiment of customers in a bricks and mortar retail store. The possibilities to build new customer service applications are endless. These are available today to extend your applications to build what is possible.
  • Github – We have a significant Azure open source presence on Github such as Azure Resource Manager templates for service provisioning as well as code and documentation for our open source Azure projects like container service engine.
  • Bespoke proof of concept opportunities – Webjet, Australia and New Zealand’s leading online travel agency, has built a blockchain proof of concept with the potential to transform the way the entire travel industry processes and manages online payments. With the potential to save the industry billions of dollars, and empower Webjet to capitalise on a US$10 billion market opportunity[1], the trusted innovation resolves issues created by data mismatch across the booking chain to boost user experience and reduce costs.

When Microsoft and Red Hat formally banded together a year ago, it was with the promise that together we could take Linux to market in a way no other partnership can. As partners, we can now mix the enterprise quality of Red Hat Linux with global cloud scalability Microsoft Azure provides in 34 announced regions, including here in Sydney and Melbourne.

Enterprises and their DevOps teams can now manage their cross-platform development and hybrid cloud applications through a single pane of glass. While in the background, our combined security teams are constantly working to harden the platform against attackers. And Microsoft lights that up with great support provided in collaboration with partner Red Hat.

With the collaboration between Red Hat and Microsoft, developers and their enterprises can now achieve their shared vision at cloud speed without compromise – fuelling and accelerating digital transformation in every industry and allowing every Australian citizen and organisation to achieve more.

To learn more about how Microsoft and Red Hat are the ultimate Linux open source partners for your enterprise development projects, check out: https://aka.ms/azure-rh-webinar-nov17

Michael O’Keefe, Microsoft ANZ open source product marketing manager

[1] Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organisations and Users in 2017 and Beyond. October 2016. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3482117