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Microsoft is giving programmers more options when it comes to deploying its version of the open-source Hadoop big data software on the Microsoft Azure public cloud. Specifically, it will become possible to set up the HDInsight Hadoop service on Azure on top of servers running the Ubuntu Linux operating system, not just Windows, Microsoft announced today.

“Today, we are announcing that customers can run HDInsight on Ubuntu Linux clusters, in addition to Windows, with simple deployment, a managed service level agreement and full technical support,” T. K. “Ranga” Rengarajan, corporate vice president of data platform at Microsoft, and Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president for machine learning at the company, wrote in a blog post. “This is particularly compelling for people that already use Hadoop on Linux on-premises, because they can use the common Linux tools, documentation, and templates and extend their deployment to Azure with hybrid cloud connections.”

This marks yet another embrace of open-source technology on the part of Microsoft. For years Microsoft was opposed to certain open-source tools, including Linux in particular. (Microsoft cofounder and former chief executive Bill Gates once chose the word “cancer” to describe the operating system, which competes with Windows.) But in the past year, especially since Satya Nadella became Microsoft’s chief executive, the company has taken several steps demonstrating a commitment to the open-source development model or its own tools and open-source tools assembled outside of Microsoft.

Recent open-source moves from Microsoft include the commitment to open-sourcing parts of Microsoft’s .NET framework, its partnership with Linux container startup Docker, and its recent acquisition of Revolution Analytics. Oh, and don’t forget about open-sourcing MS-DOS.


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Last year Nadella made a point of telling reporters at a press event that “Microsoft loves Linux,” adding that “20 percent of Azure is already Linux.” So it’s clear Microsoft understands that developers like and use Linux for cloud development. Today’s news suggests that the company has come to recognize that Linux is a respectable building block for Hadoop clusters in the cloud, too.

HDInsight first became available on Azure in 2013. Ubuntu Linux support is available in a preview, according to today’s blog post.

Microsoft also said today that the Storm open-source stream-processing system is now available for anyone to use inside HDInsight on Azure. Microsoft announced a preview of that feature in October.

Finally, the Azure Machine Learning service Microsoft unveiled last year is now generally available as well, Rengarajan and Sirosh wrote in the blog post.

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