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back to article Microsoft's magic bullet for Azure: Red Hat Linux

If Microsoft loves money, and it does, then making Linux publicly available on its proprietary Azure cloud can't come soon enough. Last June Microsoft ran a build of Linux on its Windows Azure compute fabric in the labs of the Server and Tools division, which is responsible for its cloud. What flavour of Linux? Red Hat, sources …

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Facepalm

Well Doh!

Quote

Windows now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of server revenues compared to just under 20 per cent for Linux.

Might that be due to the fact that Windows is a tad more expensive than SLES/RHEL etc

AND

that a good number of shops use distros like CentOS for non production servers at no frigging cost at all. Those shops then use RHEL for Production Only. As CentOS is source code identical (apart from the RH copyright stuff) it makes real sense.

I've just been setting up a couple of VM servers. One using Microsoft 'kit' and the other RHEL/KVM. The RHEL one works a whole lot better even running Windows server 2003 & 2008.

I really do think that this is the last throws of a Dinosaur before it goes extinct.

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Anonymous Coward

RHEL Support

You've not purchsed RHEL support then? It costs at least as much, if not more, than Windows. Support is critical for production enviornments.

You are correct that dev/non-prod environments often use CentOS, as indeed we do at my place of work, but we also use Technet which keeps MS costs for dev/test down to a very small yearly subscription.

I haven't used RHEL's virtualisation, or MS' (for quite some time) but I do find that both Win and Lin tend to run just fine on VMware ESXi.

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Stop

@Steve Davies 3, Demise of Windows...

I think you sharply underestimate the large number of corporate drones with a budget who will want a windows server, because they have used windows for most of their lives as powerpoint and excel jockeys. And then there is a corresponding non-trivial population of developers who have put their competence eggs all into the windows ecosystem.

These two groups will stubbornly ignore all the advantages of Linux and other Unixes and stick with Windows. Also, these people often work for multi-billion $$/€€ mega-corpos, and that means lifeblood for MS.

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Re: tad more expensive

My thoughts exactly, but if I'm reading the linked article correctly, the figures being compared are the *hardware* costs grouped by OS, which strikes me as a perverse statistic to quote. It is certainly not possible to infer from this any measure of market share for Windows versus Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

The IDC figures are a joke, sure, and yes Microsoft is in no danger of going away anytime soon as long as it has large corporations throwing cash at it with their site licenses.

That still doesn't make Azure in any way shape or form a good idea. Want to run Linux? The next thing on your mind should not be Ï'll go to Microsoft and run it on their Azure'.

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The 50 percent seems to be 49.7 of total factory revenue

The IDC report is cited as follows: "... quarterly revenue of $6.3 billion for Windows servers represented 49.7 percent of overall quarterly factory revenue." So you're right, that doesn't sound like the same thing as 50 percent of servers. It's even worse than you think. There are costs to licensed software which go way beyond the actual retail price.

To illustrate: a recent installation of two cheap HP 1U servers ran into a snag. For VoIP purposes the business needed to run SMS 2008 which would have been fine except the manager demanded that we run the latest version of all software. So he bought SMS 2011 instead. The HP servers came with support including fakeraid firmware driver interfaces for SMS 2008 but not 2011 so we were stuck.

With considerable effort we managed to get e.g. a software RAID mirror running acceptably but what should have been a straightforward hour or so eventually took over twenty! And that was just my time, never mind the VoIP specialist. At $60/hour the effort cost way more than the SMS 2011 licence. That licence in turn cost more than the hardware from HP.

The manager didn't have budget for a second 2011 licence so the second (backup) server lay unconfigured, till just for fun I put on a version of RHEL which had fakeraid support from HP, then loaded FreePBX (including Asterix).

It worked perfectly and would have cost a lot less than SMS, but of course wasn't Windows (which the VoIP guy demanded) and was only for trialling. So I removed RHEL, imaged the SMS partitions from the working machine and installed CentOS 6 on the free area. Then I took a partimage backup of the Windows partitions and zeroed them.

Testing showed it would take a little more than fifteen minutes to completely restore the Windows partitions, although there were minor issues with the ethernet MAC addresses being different (at least initially).

Now the outfit has a spare machine, identical hardware, and able to perfectly restore the functioning SMS system in less than half an hour from "Go". But jeepers, wouldn't it have been simpler not to have to worry about licensing in the first place?

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Bronze badge

'Throes'

And you might even be right if the day ever comes to pass when all the enterprise apps (payroll, ERP) and games and the like appear on Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

re: "Throes"

It mentions Ballmer, so "throws" is correct.

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Stop

@Alan Bourke, ERP

I think all relevant ERP software is already on Linux and in fact most production systems use Linux or Unix in that sector. Navision does not really matter; it's more SAP, Oracle and IBM (Websphere),

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FAIL

"all relevant ERP already on Linux" ?!?

Oh yes, all the relevant ERP systems, with the exception of things like all versions of Sage, Navision, Great Plains, EX, Pegasus, SunAccounts, most/all Infor products and about another 50 I could probably name if I had the time.

So other than 95% of all companies, with the exception of multi-national corporates with more money than sense running SAP, it is true to say "all relevant ERP systems are on Linux" ....

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Anonymous Coward

@Linbox

Of course there are quite a few niche enterprise systems which are only available for Windows. But selling corporate software without Linux server support is quite an uphill battle these days, as experienced IT personnel often does not want to touch windows with the proverbial ten foot pole.

And SAP/Oracle is not just used by the megacorps these days. Many companies well below the 200 million dollar revenue level are now using SAP or Oracle ERP systems.

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FAIL

I've worked on and around ERP systems for 25 years.

Working for multi-nationals and large corporates as well as SME's and even some fairly small businesses on three continents. Both as a contractor, an employee and in-house as well as for vendors (including at least one big named one).

Shit load of Unix, Pick and OS/400 based systems. Boatloads of Windoze.

Not a single Linux ERP system.

Niche, you say?

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Anonymous Coward

Linux on Windows Azure a big ask among Microsoft customers

> Mary-Jo Foley notes here, it's the ability to run Linux on Windows Azure that's been a big ask among Microsoft customers ..

Why, what exactly is the break-down in such cases?

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WTF?

That's what I'm wondering - if you want to run Linux, why would you be looking at Azure anyway when there are plenty of more 'natural' options such as Amazon's offerings.

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Windows

Running after the facts... again!

Solely looking at numbers here there is a good reason why Amazon's EC2 has more users than Googles application cloud. Its not about "good" vs. "bad", its simply that having a full OS under your fingertips is much more versatile (thus appealing) than merely hosting applications. The latter has its uses too, sure, but the people interested in such services won't hold the same amounts.

IMO Microsoft should have realized this up front. Especially since Microsoft entered a market in which they were hardly noticeable yet. Speculating here: could it be that MS aimed at the "application cloud" because that's what Google was doing and Google is the 'mortal enemy' of Microsoft? If so it shows a major flaw in their business model right there. Google already had a massive Internet presence (dunno why, but somehow they are hard not to notice) yet Microsoft's key strengths lies with operating systems (lets ignore the problems with Windows for now). They have a Net presence, sure, but hardly comparable. Heck; people even use Bing to "google a topic". "Google? Yeah, I googled it with Bing!".

And although I think MS is on the right track here I have to wonder; why Linux ? This is once again a market which others have already explored and exploited. MS would once again enter a market where they have little to no presence...

Why not focus on key strengths? Put Windows servers in their Azure cloud instead, and then provide these for the (SOHO) market? MS is already supplying some (IMO:) excellent clouding services, just take a look at how Skydrive is fully embedded with their Office 2010 product.

So why not provide virtual "Azure powered" Windows servers for, say, the SOHO market? Sure, there are also more players here; many hosting providers already provide virtual Windows. But Microsoft has one advantage here which the others don't. I dunno why, but for some reason "Microsoft" seems to be an important name with this "Windows" thing.

If you can't trust Microsoft to host a virtual Windows server, then who can you? I know; dangerous statement and probably not fully true at this time. But I am sure that should MS provide virtual Windows servers for a decent price then /this/ is where they /WILL/ get a certain upper hand.

Stop running after the facts and take some initiative guys!

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Anonymous Coward

Heck; people even use Bing to "google a topic". "Google? Yeah, I googled it with Bing!".

Really? Is there place where such people can be viewed for amusement, a kind of zoo perhaps?

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Gold badge
Facepalm

"...a kind of zoo perhaps?"

A good analogy, with one small difference. You're the one sitting on your own in a room and all those people moving around outside your window are the creatures you're interested in.

They're usually referred to as "the general public".

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Anonymous Coward

Windows shops going Linux ?

Surely there must be some mistake here. If you're a Windows shop there's no way in hell you can ever go back. Windows sysadmin brain is just too different to be able to go Unix.

As for customers telling Microsoft they want to go Linux, am I the only one that sees something wrong in this picture ?

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Anonymous Coward

If you are too old to learn...

you were always too old to learn !

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Anonymous Coward

Windows shops going Linux ?

"Windows sysadmin brain is just too different to be able to go Unix."

Bullshit. Sysadmin stuff is sysadmin stuff. You just learn how to do it with another system. If you refuse to do so you're just limiting your options - foolish. It goes both ways - see the typical "Experienced admins won't touch Windows with a ten-foot barge pole" (quote probably not word perfect,) comment for an example of how tunnel vision goes both ways.

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WTF?

No the Windows brain is very different to the Linux brain

When a Windows brain meets a problem the first thing they think is:

"Who do I pay to fix this?"

When the Linux brain meets the problem they think

"How can I fix this, lets set up a test machine FOR FREE and see if we can replicate the problem, no fire up the FREE debugger that is part of the distro, ...."

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Anonymous Coward

Ahh...

The self importance of some Linux users is just staggering and they wonder why more people don't use their OS.

Anyone who is skilled at one OS is perfectly capable of learning another,it's just that some would rather slag off other OS users than do a bit of work.

Also, TechNet subscriptions allow use of test machines for a hundred quid a year.

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Stop

Linux vs Windows for Skilled System Administrators

Of course one can always argue about making drastic statements.

Nevertheless, I would argue that Linux, as every Unix system, is much more well-suited for datacenter operations for several reasons. First, almost everything can be administered via the command line, which is more productive for competent IT personnel than clicking through GUIs. Also, every command line phrase can be put inside a script to automate repetitive and/or complex operations. Databases and directory systems can be queried by these scripts to reduce manual workload on admins. Hundreds of systems can run the scripts unattended and at the same time.

Windows systems are mostly designed towards administration by GUI, which is very hard and unreliable to automate.

Secondly, Unix systems are an excellent example of modular design, while Windows systems are tightly coupled behind the scenes. Just take the registry as an example - opaque and tightly coupled. Very difficult to fix if something goes wrong with one of the installers which change the registry and register hundreds of human-unreadable keys. With Unux/Linux you normally have ASCII config files you can edit with any plain editor.

Thirdly, windows requires reboots for many changes which would never require a reboot on a Unix system. Think of updating parts of the registry which can only be read during boot time.

Then there are things like the sluggishness of Windows to traverse file systems (when searching for a file using something like the find command) or the sluggishness of Windows when spawning a new process. Unix-like scripting depends on the ability to start a process in 10ms, run it for 10ms and then do the same thing with a different program. Hundreds of times in a few seconds. Windows cannot do that. Windows' reputation as being less reliable than Linux is also not irrational, but founded on the experience of burned users.

So to conclude, Windows is great for end users as the GUI quality and the available applications are second to none, if taken as a whole. People who will use the GUI methaphor all the time and a large assortment of apps need windows. But that is not the datacenter.

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Anonymous Coward

@Johnny

You give yourself away in the first paragraph as not having much Windows experience, which sort of makes my point.

Every single thing that you can do in the Windows GUI is doable from the command line and has been since NT4. Indeed there has been a headless version of Windows server since 2008 and it will be the default install option for the next version of server.

Everything that can be done from the command line can be reliably scripted with one of many scripting languages from the bog standard .cmd batch language, through perl to Powershell.

GUIs are good for some things, CLIs are good for others, consider the two scenarios:

1) I've got a text file which has the names of files I want to copy, I could open it and parse through it manually tediously pointing and clicking, or I could use a single command to parse through the file and issue a copy command.

2) I've got a thousand photographs, I want to make a copy of the one of the dog. I have tried, but I can't think of a command line solution - you need a preview screen, then drag-n-drop the one which is the dog.

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Linux

@AC, Windows "scriptable since NT4"

If that were the truth, I am sure they would have had a better shell than cmd.exe all these years. Powershell might be much better and the headless Windows version (quite a bit ironic in my opinion - "windows" without a GUI) is probably the right way forward.

All MS is doing is to make "windows server" look more and more like a proper Unix. Which is a clear admission that the GUI concept is not the way to go in the datacenter.

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Anonymous Coward

Like I said...

You don't know much about Windows...

Perl has been available as have several other languages in Windows Scripting Host. CMD is limited, but actually not as limited as many people who don't actually know it seem to think.

There will still be graphical tools to administer Win8 server (or whatever it ends up being called) it's just that you'll need to point them at the server from a host machine. All MS are saying is that there isn't much point in having a GUI in a remote datacentre, you may as well use command line at the server, and command line/GUI tools at the administration workstation.

The difference between UNIX and Windows is that Windows went into the datacentre and UNIX came out of it. UNIX had to get a GUI, Windows has had to shed it's GUI.

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Happy

The magic comes later with the open-sourcing of .NET …

Hyper-V has had Linux support for a while, and Azure has had VM roles for a while so this was always going to happen at some point (I guess M$ would like it to have come as “legacy support”!), but I think the article is missing the point.

Microsoft are trying to get Dell, HP and a host of others to use Azure as their cloud offering in a multi-vendor public/outsource/private cloud.. playing to the EDS/IBM GS/Perot outsourcing model. The outsourcing pitch has to be heterogeneous just to qualify.. so expect to see Azure licence announcements from Dell & HP triggered by Linux support.

The magic will come with the integration of Linux with the Azure application platform through .NET services running on Linux either through a Mono commercial support licence (with Xamarin) or the bold open-sourcing of MS .NET

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Holmes

As one of those 10,000 customers...

I can tell you that my monthly bill is £7.32. How the hell they came up with that number is anybodies guess.

As others have already pointed out, adapting existing stuff to run on Azure is a whole heap more difficult than just stuffing it onto an AWS server.

Which explains why my Azure bill is £7.32 and my Amazon one about £400 ...

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Alert

"By embracing Linux....."

Now they've extended this to running it on Azure.

Anyone else remember what comes next?

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Linux

EEE method

This will only work if they dominate the market.

Obviously this article is saying the opposite.

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Anonymous Coward

It's like.......

Running a Rolls Royce on dog piss, much better to run Windows on Linux.

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Linux

In the end

The most used word of consequence I see here is... Linux.

I guess that means it won... I'm not surprised.

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T J
Facepalm

That brings the Linux On Windows to....

Wow! So now there'll be 3 people in the world instead of 2 running Linux on a Microsoft platform!

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Anonymous Coward

£7.32 AWS bill...

They probably came up with that number by converting $10.00 US to British pounds...

Netgeek

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