by Swapnil Bhartiya

Microsoft brings Debian GNU/Linux to Azure cloud

News Analysis
Dec 02, 2015
Cloud ComputingLinuxOpen Source

Azure customers will now be able to run Debian GNU/Linux based virtual machines.rn

Microsoft is has collaborated with credativ to offer Debian GNU/Linux as an endorsed distribution on its Azure cloud.

Microsoft already had ties with SUSE and Canonical to offer openSUSE, SLE and Ubuntu on Azure cloud. It also had deals with OpenLogic to offer Red Hat’s CentOS. And after a very long wait, Microsoft struck a deal with Red Hat to bring RHEL to its cloud. That left Debian, one of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions on servers, behind. Until now.

Customers can now easily provision Debian-based virtual machines in Microsoft Azure. There are two supported versions of Debian available for Azure: Debian 7 (codename “wheezy”) and Debian 8 (codename “jessie”), both built by credativ.

What does it mean for Linux?

Passionate Linux fans may criticize Microsoft for being hypocritical: at one hand they display their love for Linux and on the other hand they continue with their patent attacks against Linux players.

There is actually no hypocrisy here. It’s pure business.

There are two different markets for Microsoft: consumer and enterprise. In the consumer space the company continues its patent licensing policies. Not much is going to change there because Linux-based operating systems like Android have apparently become a revenue generation machine for Microsoft and they won’t give up that treasure trove so easily.

The enterprise space is a totally different ballgame. There are two big players in the cloud space: AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure, and the the majority of enterprises run Linux in the cloud.

On AWS, Ubuntu Linux is the most popular operating system. And the situation isn’t much different on Azure. Microsoft has said that one out of four Azure virtual machines are Linux. With numbers like that, one thing is clear: Microsoft needs Linux. There is no love interest here; there is no change of heart. For Microsoft, it’s a matter of survival.

It’s not surprising that Microsoft doesn’t brag about patents when signing deals with enterprise Linux players, even though patents seems to be part of the deal. There were grey areas in the Novell-Microsoft deal, and there is some ambiguity in the Red Hat-Microsoft deal.

So patents are still there and it remains an issue between Microsoft and the open source community. That leads to mistrust. Unless Microsoft joins the OIN (Open Innovation Network) and ensures the community that it will not use any patents against Linux players, the community will remain skeptical.