By now it’s generally recognized that public cloud services such as Microsoft Azure provide two major benefits. The first is that developers are no longer dependent on internal IT organizations to find the money needed to create space on IT infrastructure running on-premises in order for them to begin work on an application. That not only reduces costs, it makes it economically feasible to experiment with developing more applications.
The second major benefit is flexibility. IT organizations can more easily add resources dynamically as needed. The days when application performance would degrade because an application was running out of headroom are essentially over.
But there are even more compelling nuances of the Microsoft Azure platform that developers need to appreciate. The first is how Linux-friendly Azure has actually become. Microsoft has signed a broad-ranging alliance with Red Hat that calls for the entire open source portfolio to be available on the Azure cloud. Initially, that means being able to use your Red Hat Cloud Access credentials to run Red Hat virtual machines, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Server, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Web Server, Red Hat Gluster Storage, and OpenShift on Azure.
In the near future, Red Hat and Microsoft will be jointly adding support for Microsoft.net to Red Hat Linux as well, making it possible to run those applications on either a Windows or Linux server on Azure. To make matters even more interesting, Microsoft has already made it clear that it intends to make Microsoft SQL Server 2016 available on Linux as well. That means it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft databases running on Linux show up on Azure.
At the same time, IT operations teams can also look forward to being able to use Red Hat Cloud Forms to manage both Red Hat software and multiple types of virtual machines on Azure.
Beyond the unprecedented amount of flexibility this alliance provides developers in terms of cloud platforms, arguably the most significant aspect of all this cooperation may simply come down to application latency. Instead of having isolated stacks of applications running on Linux and Windows servers, developers will be able to create more value than ever by creating composite applications that span both platforms running in the same cloud computing environment. Because those applications will share access to a common pool of data residing in Azure, many of the latency issues that previously made building those applications problematic are minimized.
In fact, with each successive application that gets hosted on the Azure cloud, it makes the other applications running in the environment potentially more valuable. As the total number of data sources that are a simple application programming interface (API) call away increases, the more data there is for developers to access. This “data gravity” phenomenon is one of the primary developer benefits of an alliance between Red Hat and Microsoft that many developers thought they would never live to see.
Whether your current base platform is Windows or Red Hat Linux, it’s clear that operating systems and associate middleware are becoming services that developers can invoke as needed. In that context, developers will be able to mix and match those services as they best see fit. But more importantly, those services are actually now a means to a larger cloud computing end through which developers gain access to more data than ever at lower levels of latency than they ever could have imagined before.