Microsoft Shows Linux More 'Love' in Big Data Cloud Push

The company expands its Linux-compatible enterprise cloud offerings as the open-source OS gains ground on Microsoft Azure.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella remarked in October that the company's Azure cloud computing platform "supports any OS on any container technology, so we support both Linux and Windows Server," before declaring that "Microsoft loves Linux." Today, as enterprises mull placing their big data workloads on third-party clouds, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is extending its embrace of the rival, open-source operating system.

Linux—indeed the open-source movement in general—has already had a major impact on how Microsoft approaches the exploding market for business cloud solutions, according to Oliver Chiu, product marketing manager for Microsoft Hadoop/Big Data and Data Warehousing. The company "is committed to openness, underscored by recent announcements including 20% of Azure Virtual Machines run on Linux, 'Microsoft loves Linux', open sourcing the .NET Core, our contributions to Apache Hadoop, and support for Docker containers," he asserted in Feb. 18 blog post.

Meanwhile, HDInsight, the company's cloud-based Hadoop distribution, is growing at a rate of 20 percent per month, claimed Chiu. Increasingly, Linux customers want in on the act.

"Responding to this demand, customers can now choose Windows or Linux operating systems when they deploy Hadoop in Azure. Both options are first class citizens, offering simple deployment, SLA [service-level agreement], technical support for the entire stack, ranging from Hadoop to the operating system," announced Chiu.

Amid the keynotes and presentations at the Strata+Hadoop World conference, currently taking place in San Jose, Calif., Microsoft announced the release of the first public preview of Azure HDInsight on Linux, based on the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP). Hortonworks, a Yahoo spin-off, is considered the industry's leading distributor of enterprise-grade, Apache Hadoop-based big data solutions. Last summer, the company banked $50 million from Hewlett-Packard as part of a deal to integrate HDP into its HAVEn big data platform.

Azure HDInsight on Linux gives Microsoft access to a bigger pool of potential customers while providing Linux-based IT organizations with a major new contender as they evaluate big data cloud vendors.

"Customers can now augment their current deployments with the cloud and leverage all of their existing skillsets and tooling (documentation, samples, and templates) to do so," said Chiu. Those customers can now rely on familiar tools, namely SSH (enabled by default) and Ambari, a big data cluster management and monitoring project, to augment their big data processing capabilities.

Ambari was first introduced as part of HDP 1.2 in 2013. The Web-based tool "provides a single view of the performance and state of your Hadoop cluster, as well as providing the ability to customize configuration setting, and deploy additional Hadoop apps onto the cluster," Chiu said, enabling HDP experts to quickly acclimate to their Azure-backed big data deployments.

"Within a hybrid environment, customers can mix the control and flexibility of on-premises deployments with the elasticity and redundancy of the cloud," added Chiu. Transitioning to the hybrid cloud model is facilitated by HDP's support for Falcon, a data processing management framework for Hadoop clusters.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...