Three and a half years ago, Mark Russinovich, Azure CTO, Microsoft’s cloud, said, “One in four [Azure] instances are Linux.” In 2017, Microsoft revealed that 40% of Azure virtual machines (VM) were Linux-based. Then in 2018, Microsoft’s executive VP and enterprise group, Scott Guthrie said in an exclusive interview, “about half Azure VMs are Linux.” And now Microsoft’s Linux kernel developer, Sasha Levin, in a request that Microsoft be allowed to join a Linux security list, revealed that “the Linux usage on our cloud has surpassed Windows.”
Linux is largely responsible to run enterprises computing both on in-house servers and on the cloud. Windows Server has been declining for years. In the most recent IDC Worldwide Operating Systems and Subsystems Market Shares report covering 2017, Linux had 68% of the market and its shares have only increased since then. As Guthrie said, “Every month, Linux goes up,”, it seems only a matter of time for Linux to dominate even on Azure.
But hold on! It’s not just Microsoft Azure’s customers that are switching to Linux. Guthrie said, “Native Azure services are often running on Linux. Microsoft is building more of these services. For example, Azure’s Software Design Network (SDN) is based on Linux.” Wondering why all of a sudden everyone, including Microsoft, is switching to Linux and open-source software?
Guthrie explained, “It started more than 10 years ago when we open sourced ASP.NET. We recognized open source is something that every developer can benefit from. It’s not nice, it’s essential. It’s not just code, it’s the community.” Even former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who once infamously said, “Linux is cancer.” now says he loves Linux.
Now there are at least eight Linux distros available on Azure, and that does not count Microsoft’s own Azure Sphere. It is a hardware and software stack designed to secure edge devices, which includes what Microsoft president Brad Smith declared “a custom Linux kernel.” It seems like now it’s a Linux world- even at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.