Posted by Kerry Godes
Senior Manager, Worldwide Marketing and Operations

Microsoft is dedicated to ensuring that our software, services, and devices work easily across our platforms, especially with the global shift in IT toward the Cloud. With this in mind, we continue to work with other technology companies, both commercial and open source, to streamline interoperability and enhance functionality.

Among these companies is the team at OpenLogic, who have worked with Microsoft over the past year to bring their supported CentOS images to Windows Azure Virtual Machines, giving CentOS users a Microsoft public Cloud option in addition to the existing private Cloud support for CentOS running on Windows Server Hyper-V. With Windows Azure Virtual Machines, currently in preview, users can easily deploy and run Windows Server and Linux virtual machines in minutes in the public Cloud and migrate existing workloads without having to change existing code in the majority of the cases.

OpenLogic’s CEO, Steven Grandchamp, and Director of Engineering and Co-founder, Eric Weidner, recently offered perspectives on their work with CentOS and affirmatively answered the question “Linux…with Microsoft…really?”

Can you give our readers an overview of OpenLogic?
SG – OpenLogic’s mission, for the past seven-plus years, is helping enterprises succeed with open source software. Within that context, we provide three key services: provisioning, support, and governance. The first key service is to provision open source software (OSS). Secondly, we offer support for over 700 different open source packages, including CentOS, for which our goal is to be able to provide a fully open alternative to the popular enterprise Linux distribution that customers already know and use. Thirdly, we offer products that help organizations with policy, governance and compliance.

How did you come to work with Microsoft to bring OpenLogic CentOS images to Windows Azure Virtual Machines?
SG - As I mentioned, we already have our CentOS offering, as part of supporting over 700 open source packages. When the Windows Azure team approached us about working together, they asked if we could bring into the Cloud the same level of CentOS support we already offer our customers in traditional data center environments. Since then, we have been working with the Windows Azure team closely in the preview phase and setting up for the full launch. For us, provisioning and supporting OpenLogic CentOS images on Windows Azure was a logical move.

In my experience to date, Microsoft is the best of the big guys at collaborating. I think it comes from the enterprise heritage of the company. They figured out the collaboration model with partners a long time ago; that sort of experience is evident with Windows Azure.

How has your relationship evolved since you first began working with Microsoft?
EW – Since April of 2012, we have enjoyed a close working relationship with the Windows Azure team. Our goal is to deliver the OpenLogic CentOS images, and meet a series of goals in order to make our go-live dates. From the start, I appreciated Microsoft’s commitment to open source prospects, and their efforts to open up Windows Azure to Linux. Not only has Microsoft open sourced the drivers, including contributing them to the upstream kernel projects to allow people to run Linux on their hypervisors and platforms, they’ve also created open source tools for developers to use to interact with the platform. The source code and instructions for building from source and running the drivers on Github and Codeplex are also available. That level of commitment is impressive.

SG – Entering this relationship, we didn’t have an expectation in mind. At first, the thought surfaced: “Linux…with Microsoft…really?” But, when we actually started working with Microsoft, we realized they are open source savvy. Their open-source mojo and perspective are much greater than expected from the outside looking in. Over time, the technical integration has become tighter, and is now expanding to the business side. The tech expertise is one thing, and the team is fantastic with that. On the business side, Microsoft is certainly collaborative, willing to listen, and extremely quick to respond in constructing a model that works with organizations like ours in a unique and relatively new environment. We’re seeing a significant level of maturation with their understanding of open source and it is a very positive experience.

What is required for a customer to set up OpenLogic CentOS images on a Windows Azure Virtual Machine?
EW – What is great about OpenLogic CentOS and Windows Azure is that there is very little required to begin running images. For users, it is as easy as picking the OpenLogic CentOS image in the Windows Azure management portal gallery and answering a few questions for the basic setup. Then a CentOS server can be launched in about five minutes.

Once a customer has an OpenLogic CentOS image running on Windows Azure Virtual Machines, what type of support is offered?
SG – The key with OpenLogic CentOS is that users will have a complete Service Level Agreement (SLA), compared to working only with the community. The community is fantastic, but enterprise customers expressed interest in an agreement without having to wait for the community to respond to their issues.  We offer full email and telephone support, with an SLA that enterprise customers can count on. They will know the turnaround times, and level of available support, much like they are used to from working with commercial software companies and organizations.

What are some of the technical benefits that customers can realize by running OpenLogic CentOS images on Windows Azure?
EW – Users can expect to have a vast, selectable, and truly predictable deployment process in place. Additionally, they will be able to get their servers up and running in much the same way they are able to when using traditional data centers.

Looking forward, what is in store for the Microsoft and OpenLogic?
SG – OpenLogic CentOS Linux is the foundation – not the end point, but the starting point. There is so much value in OSS that can be delivered on the Cloud platform. Once we get the base level CentOS operating system live, OpenLogic will be able to deliver middleware, more stacks, and custom applications quickly because we already provision and support them. To tie all that in with a stable, supported Cloud platform, is going to be a very rapid expansion.

What is next for OpenLogic and CentOS?
SG – We are continuing to strengthen the support and capabilities of OpenLogic CentOS, establishing ourselves as a salient part of the CentOS community. As deployments increase, and the market advances with more Windows Azure use, we will facilitate community collaboration and provide resources to the community as needed. The OSS communities need additional resources; they value having their products adopted in enterprises. We can help with that uptake, help the communities to progress, and continue moving their products forward.

We are looking forward to continued work with OpenLogic. For a summary of how this technology is benefiting CentOS and Windows Azure customers, check out our video interview with OpenLogic CEO Steven Grandchamp. To start running OpenLogic’s CentOS images as part of the current Virtual Machines Preview, check out Eric Weidner’s post on the Windows Azure blog or the Windows Azure site. As always, let us know what you think in the comments!