Oct 01 2015

The New Microsoft Is Open in More Ways than One

Microsoft made a surprising move this month, announcing that its new cloud software system runs on a Linux-based operating system.

The Windows giant has historically been at odds with Linux and the open-source community, but a Sept. 17 post by Kamala Subramaniam, principal architect for Azure Networking at Microsoft, explained why the company’s adoption of a Linux solution makes sense.

"The Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) is our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches. It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux," wrote Subramaniam. "ACS allows us to debug, fix, and test software bugs much faster. It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our data center and our networking needs."

ACS isn’t designed as a consumer-grade networking solution. Instead, it will work internally at Microsoft, powering the network equipment that the company’s cloud service operates on.

“The advantages of a lean and modular stack are plenty. It makes validation easier with less probability for hidden, high priority bugs and reduces new feature request time lag,” she wrote.

This is the latest in a series of announcements this year that show Microsoft is not afraid to cross company lines. During its Build conference in April, the company showcased "bridges" that enable different types of apps, including emulated Android and iOS apps, to run on Windows 10. The feature allows developers to bring existing Android-based code over to Microsoft's flagship operating system.

In September, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office Client Applications and Services team at Microsoft, appeared at Apple’s annual keynote to show how the Office 365 app works on the new iPad Pro.

Microsoft also made waves at the annual VMworld conference in September when Jim Alkove, corporate vice president for enterprise and security in the Windows and Devices Group, appeared onstage with Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager of the end-user computing division at VMware, for the second keynote to announce a partnership between the companies called Project A², which will allow IT teams a streamlined management experience for their entire fleet of Windows 10 devices.

“The kinder, gentler Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella has been systematically making friends with all of its historic arch rivals,” reports Business Insider. “Today it was Apple. Last week it was VMware. Earlier it was Salesforce.”