Posted by Frédéric Aatz
Director of Interoperability, Microsoft France

Over the course of the three-day Solutions Linux and Open Source conference in Paris, I had the opportunity to answer the question “what is Microsoft’s role here?”, particularly as customers transition to the cloud and are looking for interoperable solutions that span public, private, and hybrid cloud scenarios.  It was a great feeling to have an answer that reflected several years of investments and hear consensus that there are so many opportunities to work together with open source solutions to ultimately help customers achieve more. 
 
During the “Free Software in the Cloud” panel and my “Microsoft: Choice and Openness for Cloud Computing” keynote with colleague Alfonso Castro from Microsoft’s Open Solutions Group, discussions focused on the transformative benefits customers are seeking in the cloud, how Microsoft’s role and investments have evolved over time, and how a combination of Microsoft and open source solutions are delivering value.  There was specific interest in efforts to ensure Windows Server Hyper-V is supported in OpenStack and the availability of Windows Server 2012 RC (formerly “8” Beta) that includes enhanced support for open standards, open source applications, and various development languages.  Some were initially surprised to see Microsoft putting so much energy into these collaborations, but intrigue was quickly replaced by the growing realization that working together is essential to delivering the experiences that our customers want.  For example, during the panel, which also included Bull, AFUL, Xwiki, Enovance, Ysance, Pentalog and OpenERP, it was pointed out that in the cloud, customers are seeking solutions that they can trust to be private, secure, and backed with strong service-level support.  Whether these needs are met by an open source or a proprietary software company (or a combination of both) may be of lesser concern.  The cloud solutions simply need to work as required and work well together.
 
There was also acknowledgement that recent developments illustrated a heightened level of cloud maturity.  For example, the Windows Azure platform update last month included new and enhanced capabilities to address customer’s mixed IT needs, including Windows Azure Virtual Machines that support Windows Server, OpenLogic CentOS, openSUSE, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Ubuntu, as well as Windows Azure Web Sites that support popular open source languages and applications like PHP, Apache Hadoop, and Node.js.  Looking ahead with these companies and organizations and their offerings (even if they overlap with ours), ensures that we can help our customers take advantage of the transformative benefits of the cloud. 
 
As a company, we’re committed to openness in the cloud.  As part of fulfilling this commitment, we not only have an eye on the past to remember what has and hasn’t worked, but also an eye toward the future, and a willingness to work with members of open source communities.  Of course, opportunities do exist for us to grow independently, but today open source is about business more than ever before and we are absolutely in the business of working with open source communities to deliver great customer experiences in the cloud.  Any cloud scenarios you’d like to see us support?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.