September 6, 2017

How Open Source Contributes to Microsoft's Cloud Strategy

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Microsoft cloud
In her Open Source Summit NA keynote presentation, Microsoft's Julia Liuson provides an insider view of how open source and the cloud intersect at Microsoft.

This article was sponsored by Microsoft and written by Linux.com.

Julia Liuson, Corporate Vice President of Developer Tools & Services at Microsoft, says Microsoft’s support for open source is evolving in every dimension. In this interview, ahead of her Open Source Summit North America keynote presentation Open Source & Cloud Application Platform: Our Learnings from a Developer-First Journey Liuson provides an insider view about how open source and the cloud intersect at Microsoft, where, she says, developers are focusing on building and maintaining the best hybrid cloud they can make.

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Julia Liuson
Julia Liuson, Corporate Vice President of Developer Tools & Services at Microsoft

The Open Source Summit conference combines LinuxCon, ContainerCon, CloudOpen, and the new Open Community Conference under one roof. Attendees and presenters alike are gathering in Los Angeles from Sept. 11-14 to explore and discuss Linux, containers, cloud technologies, microservices, and more.

Here are some interesting insights Liuson had to share on how open source contributes to Microsoft’s cloud strategy.

Linux.com: Tell us a little about the early days of open source at Microsoft.

Liuson: I started at Microsoft as a developer 25 years ago. Roughly five years ago, as a developer I needed permission from the powers-that-be to even to look at open source code.  We knew a major change was in progress when an executive vice president sent an email to developers that said there would be no consequences for looking at open source code.  The company encouraged us to go explore. It was a mind-boggling cultural shift.

The journey since has revealed very striking changes. Support for open source is evolving in every dimension. The latest example is the expansion of the Microsoft and Red Hat alliance on simplifying containers. The synergies and innovations are amazing so much so that now open source developers are attracted to working at Microsoft. Just think about that for a moment. What a long way we’ve all come!

Linux.com: Give us some examples of how open source contributes to Microsoft’s cloud strategy.

Liuson: What we’re doing at Microsoft is focusing on building and maintaining the best hybrid cloud we can make. We have open source elements across the entire Azure service. And, Azure can run anything from a developer’s perspective. But we want to always target all possibilities and frameworks, and we want to deliver the tools, editors, and services needed to work with them.

Take our recent announcement about expanding our alliance with Red Hat on containers, for example. Windows Server containers will be natively supported on Red Hat OpenShift, which is an enterprise platform for Docker and Kubernetes. It is also the first container application platform built from the Kubernetes project that supports both Linux and Windows Server container workloads. That is huge because it breaks down silos and simplifies the work in a cloud-native agenda.

Another example, and there are many, is our Visual Studio Code, which is a code editor for building and debugging web and cloud applications. It was launched in April 2015 and now has 2 million monthly active users, and 40 percent of them are non-Windows developers.

It’s a surprise to many people to learn that companies like Google and Facebook use Visual Studio Code and are strong advocates.

There is also strong adoption from the Node.js community. We build on top of Node some people don’t realize that and there are lots of uses for all the popular languages.

Linux.com: What is Microsoft doing to help developers move to or do their work in the cloud, with hybrid clouds, or multi-clouds?

Liuson: We’re aiming to make it easier to build and release code in any cloud environment. We support multiple languages such as Node.js, PHP, Python, and Java, so developers can work in languages they prefer.

We’re also working on making Visual Studio Code tighter and easier than it already is. We’re constantly working on the tools for the latest concepts such as continuous integration and continuous deployment so that they not only carry over to cloud, but can be cloud-native, too.

Linux.com: What is the most striking thing Microsoft is doing in terms of using open source to influence its cloud strategy?

Liuson: We get involved early in open source projects and work hard at making meaningful contributions along the way, because those are very important. We do work hard to earn influence in projects so we can help shape things so that projects work out well for our own customers but for others, too. But beyond that, we are designing projects in the open now with .Net. This lets developers see what we are doing and give us immediate feedback so we can improve and adopt developer suggestions on the fly. We are evolving run time in the cloud so that everything works really well. You can expect to see more open source influences in our culture and products, and especially in all things cloud.

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