Some 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft Azure cloud, give or take, according to various statistics. 

Red Hat is the No. 1 Linux OS. Ergo, it is quite the big deal for corporate users that Microsoft and Red Hat have said they will make Red Hat's version of the Linux operating system natively available to users of Microsoft Azure.

This offering, wrote Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group, in a blog post, "extends our commitment to offer unmatched choice and flexibility in an enterprise-grade cloud experience across the hybrid cloud."

This is what users can expect in the coming weeks:

  1. Red Hat Enterprise Linux as well as the JBoss middleware platform offered on the Azure cloud.
  2. Access to .NET technologies across Red Hat offerings, including OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  3. Engineers from both companies will co-locate on each other's presence to provide customer support. Specifically, Microsoft will support running Windows on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, running .NET applications and Windows on Red Hat OpenStack, and running .NET on the OpenShift PaaS platform, and Red Hat providing support for running Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Microsoft Azure infrastructure.
  4. Unified workload management across hybrid cloud deployments. This will include integration between Red Hat CloudForms and Microsoft Azure and System Center Virtual Machine Manager to manage Red Hat Enterprise Linux on both Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure.
  5. In the next few months, support for managing Azure workloads from Red Hat CloudForms will roll out.

A Significant Offering

It is a very significant offering, Laura DiDio, analyst with Strategic Analytics, told CMSWire. 

"Ubuntu and Red Hat are the two most popular distributions and Azure is very widely deployed on the cloud." That stat at the beginning of this post — 80 percent of all Fortune 500 companies using Azure — incidentally, is a Microsoft number and indeed Guthrie references it in his post. Whatever its origins DiDio says she believes it is 80 percent or close to it. 

“Azure is a very popular cloud platform with companies. Having Red Hat enterprise applications and workloads run natively on the Azure cloud will be a great benefit for these users."

Rivalry is Dead

Microsoft and Red Hat were rivals back in the day but that story is long over. Vendors have become far more attuned to customers' needs — or rather their demand —for interoperability across platforms.

Paul Cormier, president of Products and Technologies at Red Hat, addressed that outdated notion head on in his blog post on the announcement.  

"When I joined Red Hat in May 2001, 'open' and 'closed' were incredibly distinct. We introduced Red Hat Enterprise Linux to fill a gap in what we saw in enterprise technology — an open source, more secure, reliable operating platform with a long, stable lifecycle." In the years that followed the data enter divided into two groups: 

Today "it's an open world now and customers are the ones dictating the terms," DiDio said. "They want these platforms and components to communicate and they don’t care what the brand name is."

Microsoft has been moving in this direction increasingly in recent months and years. To give one example, this September Microsoft unveiled its Azure Container Deployment service with Mesosphere, an open source provider of container orchestration.

And of course Microsoft and Red Hat have collaborated on other projects.

But this new Red Hat-Azure offering is different, Red Hat's Cormier wrote.

It’s not the first collaboration with Microsoft, but "it is by far our deepest."