Whoa. Microsoft Is Using Linux to Run Its Cloud

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft Builds Own Linux-Based Data Center Network OS for Azure.

In a blog post on Thursday, Microsoft Azure networking principal architect Kamala Subramaniam explained how the company developed a new software system, dubbed Azure Cloud Switch, for running the networking gear that Microsoft’s cloud service depends on. This new operating system is not going to find its way into desktops and laptops, but is instead aimed at driving the networking hardware in the enterprise space.Microsoft has built a Linux-based data center network operating system for its global Azure cloud infrastructure to have more control over network management software than networking vendors can provide. Like other companies that provide services over the internet globally, companies like Google, Facebook, and its main cloud-services rival Amazon, Microsoft designs its own data center hardware and much of the software that runs on that hardware. But it’s the operating system of choice in the data center, where “free” is a very important part of the equation when you’re planning on installing the software on hundreds of thousands of servers.

Although the new Microsoft under Satya Nadella’s leadership has shown that it isn’t afraid to play nice with diverse technologies, so long as it gets the job done. It now offers Linux as an option for Azure customers, helped port major open source projects like Hadoop and Node.js to Windows, and even open sourced its own .NET development platform last year. -What’s most interesting is to note that the new Satya Nedella Microsoft is one that’s not afraid to include newer software choices while implementing solutions.

The main idea behind it is to ensure that network hardware manufacturers can build optimized hardware architectures while keeping the programming interface consistent across devices. Ballmer and Bill Gates even recorded a bizarre parody of “The Matrix” where they took potshots at Linux, claiming it was too hard for non-technical people to use (which wasn’t exactly wrong).

ACS uses the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) specification which has been accepted by the Open Compute Project (OCP) as a standardized C Application Program Interface (API). When the company acquired Hotmail in 1997, the web-based email service ran on the Unix descendant FreeBSD and did so for many years after the acquisition.

SAI is essentially a cheaper, simpler, more reliable and flexible solution to programming network switch ASICs, or application-specific integrated circuits. But Microsoft’s decision to use Linux for a new internal project is unusual, especially considering the fact that Microsoft makes a slimmed down version of Windows that can be used to run gadgets like networking switches. That need for custom networking software among large-scale web companies led to the creation of OpenDaylight, an open source networking platform backed by Cisco, Microsoft and others. Vendors design traditional switch software for a variety of customers, all with different needs, which means an individual customer ends up with features they never use.

It’s supposed to make it easier for IT pros to manage their networking infrastructure across different types of hardware — important when you’re running a bunch of networks across a bunch of data centres at cloud computing scales. It also allows Microsoft to try new hardware faster and makes it easier to integrate the networking stack with the company’s monitoring and diagnostics system.

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