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Microsoft and Red Hat Team Up to Offer Linux on Azure Cloud

Red Hat's Enterprise Linux will be the "preferred" version of Linux for Azure customers.

Composite image by Re/code

Microsoft said today that it will offer Red Hat’s version of the open source Linux operating system on its Azure cloud computing platform.

The alliance, which will be detailed in a webcast later today, will be aimed at helping large companies set up so-called hybrid cloud computing environments that include a mix of systems running on public cloud computing infrastructure — like Azure — as well as traditional on-premise computing.

Microsoft embraced Linux on its Azure cloud platform a couple of years ago. But now Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux will become the preferred version of Linux for enterprise customers using Azure, the cloud service that competes with Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.

Jason Zander, Microsoft’s corporate VP and head of its Azure business, said since Microsoft began allowing Linux on its Azure cloud platform, about one in four customers are running one variant of Linux or another, and in China that figure rises to about one in two. “We have a lot of enterprise customers who want an enterprise version of Linux and who have a relationship with Red Hat already.”

Red Hat will be available directly to Azure customers; they will be allowed to install their own Red Hat virtual machines and run applications like JBoss Web Server and OpenShift.

The deal also includes a pretty comprehensive support commitment. Support teams from both companies will work together to help shared customers. Mike Evans, VP for corporate development at Red Hat, said the two companies have what he described as a “90 percent customer overlap.”

It’s a long way from the days when the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer described Linux as a “cancer.” Last year his successor, Satya Nadella, proclaimed that “Microsoft Loves Linux” mainly because of its importance in the cloud.

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