Posted by Kerry Godes
Senior Manager, Worldwide Marketing and Operations

Cloud computing plays a significant role in helping our customers achieve better business agility, economics, and user experiences. We also know that for today’s CIOs and technology leaders, the cloud presents an opportunity to rethink the role IT plays in defining an organization’s strategy.

In order for customers to take advantage of the transformative benefits of the cloud, openness is paramount. Businesses and organizations need a comprehensive and open set of cloud solutions that span the platform, application, and infrastructure layers, giving customers the ability to transition to the cloud on their terms.

We’re fortunate to be working with Canonical to make this promise of choice and flexibility a reality for our mutual customers.

Canonical is the company behind the Ubuntu project – a Linux distribution with more than 20 million users and rapidly growing popularity in the cloud. We’re working together so our customers can have a first-class experience running official Ubuntu images from Canonical using Windows Azure Virtual Machines.

According to Canonical’s Chris Kenyon, VP of Sales and Business Development, “Ubuntu is used extensively on public clouds and being available on Microsoft's Windows Azure is a natural extension. Many customers use both Ubuntu and Windows Server in their IT environments and as workloads migrate to the cloud, the case for having Ubuntu images run on Windows Azure Virtual Machines becomes even more compelling. It’s what our mutual customers want. This is all about choice.”

With Windows Azure, customers can easily deploy and run Windows Server and Linux virtual machines, without having to change existing code. Canonical customers can easily bring their own customized images or select from pre-built images to gain application mobility between the cloud and on-premises. Other pre-built images available include CentOS, openSUSE, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Windows Server. “We've worked with Microsoft to bring Ubuntu customers the best experience possible when using Windows Azure Virtual Machines,” said Kenyon “because we are convinced there are huge benefits from open source innovation on top of Windows Azure.”

We recently caught up with Nicolas Barcet, Canonical Product Manager, at an event where he was using Windows Azure to demonstrate both Ubuntu and the Juju solution with Virtual Machines. Commenting on why this collaboration was important, Barcet said, “To fully take advantage of the public cloud, both Canonical and Microsoft agreed to work together to deliver more openness and flexibility for open source developers. The Windows Azure portal has a great user experience and the capabilities that you have at the command line and at the API level allow you to do wonderful things.”

Barcet’s demo of Ubuntu’s Juju piqued interest in the crowd because while the public cloud has reduced the burdens associated with hardware acquisition and management, some complexity of orchestrating services still remains. Juju is addressing the need to automate common tasks and implement DevOps (developer and operator) best practices across an organization’s infrastructure. In Barcet’s words, “You have a ready-made set of instructions that will allow you to grow and shrink your deployment painlessly.”

We’re looking forward to continued work with Canonical. For more on how this collaboration is benefiting Ubuntu and Windows Azure customers and insight into what’s next, check out this video interview with Chris Kenyon.

To start running Linux images as part of the current Virtual Machines Preview, go to the Windows Azure site.