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Microsoft and Red Hat Deepen Ties Around Containers, Azure Stack

Microsoft and Red Hat together issued several announcements this week that signal an extension of their efforts around running Red Hat's open source technologies on Microsoft's Azure infrastructure.

The two companies described their progress on four technology integrations, as well as pledged to provide joint support for the supported solutions.

Windows Server Container Support
First is an upcoming preview of native support in Red Hat OpenShift for running Windows Server containers. Red Hat OpenShift is Red Hat's container app platform that's leverages Docker's container technologies plus Google's Kubernetes cluster management technologies. The coming preview will deliver the ability to run Windows Server containers using Red Hat OpenShift.

The integration will be notable because Red Hat OpenShift will become the "first container application platform built from the open source Kubernetes project to support both Linux and Windows Server container workloads in a single platform across the multiple environments of the hybrid cloud," the companies acknowledged, in an announcement Tuesday.

A "technology preview" release of Windows Server Container support on Red Hat OpenShift is expected to arrive in "spring 2018." Containers are an operating system virtualization approach that developers might typically use to spin up applications without conflicts.

OpenShift Dedicated on Azure
Next, Red Hat's OpenShift Dedicated solution will be coming to Microsoft Azure, approximately in "early 2018," the companies announced.

OpenShift Dedicated is defined as a "container platform as a cloud service" that gets managed by Red Hat. The two companies are collaborating on the technology, as well as planning to provide "integrated support" for it.

Azure Stack Support
Also to come will be "integrated support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads on Azure Stack," it was announced. Azure Stack is Microsoft's Azure datacenter technologies brought down to local dedicated hardware. Cisco, Dell, HP and Lenovo are all said to be working on Azure Stack machines that can be housed at an organization's local infrastructure.

While the timeline for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) integration on Azure Stack wasn't described, it's thought that the first Azure Stack systems could appear as early as next month. RHEL is already supported on Microsoft Azure virtual machines cloud infrastructure, which is something that happened last year.

SQL Server for Linux Support
Lastly, the companies announced that SQL Server for Linux support will be arriving for RHEL operating system and the OpenShift platform. Microsoft's SQL Server relational database management system will get supported on those two platforms "in the coming months." They'll be "jointly supported" by the companies.

In addition to Tuesday's announcement, Red Hat announced on Monday that its product portfolio and developer tools will support Microsoft's .NET Core 2.0 platform. Even Microsoft's own tools, like PowerShell, are going that route. The .NET Core 2.0 platform is a set of common APIs that Microsoft hopes to foster going forward. The company wants to avoid past forks that occurred with the .NET code, which is seen as being burdensome for developers to track across form factors.

Microsoft's relationship with former Linux rival Red Hat might have been seen as "inconceivable" not too long ago, noted John Gossman, an architect on the Microsoft Azure team. The two companies are collaborating, though, because their enterprise customers typically use a combination of Windows and Linux technologies, he added in a blog post.

The two companies are literally close, too. For more than a year, Red Hat has had some of its engineering team located on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash.

Gossman had previously showcased a bunch of other open source Azure partners, including Red Hat, along with Microsoft's own open source contributions, in a June Web presentation.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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