Azure and Red Hat On the Road to Unifying RHEL and Windows Everywhere


By Jason Milgram, Director Software Development & Microsoft Azure MVP, Champion Solutions Group / MessageOps

Windows and Linux platforms are both popular as enterprise servers, with Red Hat a leader in the Linux market. But where do Red Hat Linux users go, when they want the power and the scalability of the cloud to run their enterprise applications? Microsoft Azure, positioned as a cloud provider that lets organizations build, deploy, and manage apps as they like, is not just for Windows anymore. Users can now run Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other Red Hat solutions directly on the Azure platform.

More than just a joint agreement for running Red Hat software in Azure, Microsoft and Red Hat have put a partnership in place for integrated enterprise-grade support. Co-located technical engineers provide seamless support services for the combination of the Azure platform and the following Red Hat products:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As a Linux distribution for commercial and enterprise server markets, RHEL also benefits from support by Red Hat for 7 to 10 years for each version; and in some cases even up to 13 years.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Application Server. This platform supports continuous development, testing, and deployment of secure Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) applications. It has capabilities such as failover, distributed caching, intelligent load balancing, clustering, and distributed deployment. It also offers an integrated developer environment to maximize productivity and performance.
  • Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Web Server. Based on fully integrated and certified components for Java web application hosting, the server combines the Apache HTTP Server, the Tomcat servlet engine, and load balancers. Stable, enterprise-class versions of the software are backed by long-term product life-cycles.
  • Red Hat Gluster Storage. An open, software-defined storage solution extending across physical, virtual, and cloud resources, Red Hat Gluster Storage offers cost-effective storage with scalability and performance. Functions include file sharding (distribution of files in smaller pieces), multi-threaded self-healing, and enhanced geo-replication for automated, periodic synchronization between clusters.
  • Red Hat OpenShift. OpenShift is Red Hat’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution that allows developers to quickly develop, host, and scale applications in a cloud environment. There are three versions available: OpenShift Online for on-demand access; OpenShift Dedicated for a customer to benefit from its own separate cluster in the public cloud; and OpenShift Container Platform for private cloud and datacenter use.

Users can launch Red Hat Enterprise Linux directly by using Red Hat Enterprise Linux images from the Azure Marketplace available through the pay-as-you-go Red Hat On-Demand service. For the products listed above, they can also use Red Hat Cloud Access to move existing subscriptions to Azure.

Since the partnership began in November, 2015, Microsoft and Red Hat have also announced additional capabilities:

  • Integration between Red Hat CloudForms (Red Hat’s solution for unified management and operations in a hybrid environment) and Microsoft Azure and System Center Virtual Machine Manager to manage Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Azure.
  • Management of Azure virtual machines with on-premises Red Hat applications by using Red Hat CloudForms.
  • .NET Core (the cross-platform version of .NET) support for building and deploying .NET applications on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenShift. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is also the primary development and reference operating system for .NET Core on Linux.

Deployment of these products is now possible as Linux instances within Azure instances. The creation, monitoring, management, and restore of Linux instances can be done using the tools provided by Red Hat and Microsoft.

In summary, and as Microsoft puts it, the discussion has moved beyond “why cloud” to become “how cloud.” Hybrid cloud configurations with the Azure platform and Red Hat software let users leverage what they already know and use today in on-premises computing, for use in a flexible, open cloud environment. Businesses can move to the cloud the way they want. They no longer have to choose between cloud or datacenter, or a Windows or Linux environment.


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