Microsoft brings two open source tools to Azure

Packer and OpenNebula are the latest open source technologies to find a home on the Microsoft Azure cloud service

Following through on promises from new CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft continues to add support for non-Microsoft technologies, allowing them to run well on the company's Azure cloud hosting platform.

"There are a wide variety of platforms and technologies that developers and IT managers like to use. We're just trying to assure that regardless of your choice, it will work well on Azure " said Doug Mahugh, a technology evangelist for Microsoft Open Technologies, a subsidiary that develops software and tools for non-Microsoft platforms.

"Our decisions about where to invest are very much driven by what is popular with developers," he said.

The company has partnered with two organizations that offer popular open source programs for managing cloud resources -- Packer and OpenNebula. Microsoft is releasing drivers that will make it easy to use the programs on Azure, as well as with Microsoft server software for in-house deployments.

At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference last week, Nadella said Microsoft was shifting its emphasis from Windows and devoting more resources to cloud services that can be used on any platform.

Packer is increasingly being used by system administrators to create and then manage the operations of virtual machine images. Running from any OS, Packer assembles and configures the necessary components for a virtual machine and can create identical copies to run on different platforms, such as Linux and Windows.

Packer can also work with popular open source configuration tools such as Chef and Puppet to automate the procedures of rolling out many virtual machines at once.

"Packer has been so popular lately that we heard from people that they want it see it on Azure," Mahugh said.

Microsoft is also adding support for the OpenNebula cloud management software. OpenNebula could be a key technology for companies interested in running hybrid clouds, a model in which some operations run on a public cloud like Azure and others run in-house, perhaps on a private cloud.

"Some telecommunications companies and service providers are already pretty invested in OpenNebula to run virtual data centers. We want those people to see Azure as a good fit for setting up more virtual data centers," Mahugh said.

This is not Microsoft's first move to ensure open source technologies work well with Azure. Recently, the company started work on drivers to make the much discussed open source Docker virtualization technology work efficiently on Azure as well.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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