Microsoft, Red Hat Finally Make It Official

Today Microsoft and Red Hat announced that Microsoft has selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the preferred choice for Linux workloads on Azure, and that Windows will be supported on the RHEL OpenStack and Red Hat virtualization platforms. This isn’t a surprising move — Mark Enzweiler, Red Hat’s senior VP of global channel sales and alliances, recently told Channel Partners that 80-plus percent of clouds are built on open source, a fact certainly not lost on Microsoft. And, a recent Red Hat/IDC survey showed 91 percent of enterprise IT decision-makers will rely on hybrid clouds by 2017. Given the popularity of RHEL in private data centers, Azure’s attractiveness to enterprise customers and previous cooperation between Microsoft and Red Hat, what’s most surprising is that the companies took so long to formalize the relationship.

In a briefing, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s EVP of cloud and enterprise, and Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, looked to head off questions from partners and IT teams. For example, Red Hat and Windows engineers and support teams will be co-located, meaning partners supporting RHEL on Azure will have “one throat to choke” if problems arise. Both said this is a unique arrangement, signaling a long-term commitment (cue Beyoncé). Guthrie said one quarter of the VMs now running on Azure are some form of Linux; he didn’t specify how many of those are RHEL.

In a side note, it’s unlikely that this news is welcomed by Oracle, SuSe or other spurned Linux providers.

Red Hat’s CloudForms private and hybrid cloud management platform will now include workloads on Azure, said Cormier, while Microsoft Azure and System Center Virtual Machine Manager can natively support RHEL 6.7 and later for smooth operation on hybrid setups. Microsoft joins Red Hat’s Certified Cloud and Service Provider program, and RHEL subscriptions are portable to Azure. Azure is also now a trusted destination for RHEL containers via OpenShift.

For ISVs and partners with development practices, .Net integration across Red Hat offerings, including OpenShift and RHEL, will be available within the next few weeks. “If an app works on RHEL on bare metal, it’ll work on Azure,” said Cormier.

Cormier says RHEL and Windows are the two most commonly used OSes, and he credited changes to Microsoft’s culture under Satya Nadella with encouraging Red Hat to finally put a ring on the relationship.

Follow editor-in-chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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