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January 9, 2012

Microsoft Opens Windows Azure Cloud to Linux

Tiffany Trader

Microsoft is about to launch a persistent virtual machine feature on its Azure cloud platform, according to a ZDNet article, which relies on several anonymous Microsoft tipsters.

The ability to run Windows or Linux “durably” (i.e., without losing state) in virtual machines means that customers will soon be able to host Linux, SharePoint and SQL Server in the Azure cloud.

Currently, Windows Azure offers only limited support for a VM role, as explained by one anonymous Microsoft insider, referenced in the piece: “The current VM role when rebooted or randomly recycled by the Azure platform loses any data stored — any persistence. So for applications that rely on the machine name or files/config that constitute “state” not stored in SQL Azure (or externally), this is a problem. This is also one of the technical reasons why you wouldn’t try running SharePoint on the current Azure VM role.”

If the anonymous sources are correct, Microsoft will be launching a Community Technology Preview (CTP) test-build of the persistent VM capability in the spring of 2012. At which time, users will be able to upload and run their Linux VMs in the Azure cloud.

Customers have long been requesting this feature, and it seems Microsoft finally conceded to their requests. Unable to use business applications like SharePoint which rely on persistence, customers were forced to either develop their own Azure applications or avoid the Microsoft PaaS product altogether. Once persistent VMs are added, customers will face an easier transition to Microsoft cloud without having to do lots of configuring. There’s another reason for the Redmond giant to overcome their anti-Linux bias: the new feature will help the company compete against rival virtualization player VMWare.

This Register article offers additional details on Microsoft’s reluctant support for Linux, adding credence to the current claims.

Full story at ZDNet