Continuing its quest to make Microsoft Azure comfy for the non-Windows world, Microsoft just launched a preview of its Hadoop-based cloud tool (HDInsight) that runs on Linux. It’s also making its Azure ML machine learning service widely available now with new support for Python as well as the already-planned support for the popular R language. Microsoft bought Revolution Analytics, the company behind a commercial version of R, last month.
Azure HDInsight is thus “Microsoft’s first fully Linux-based service for big data,” Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft’s corporate VP of machine learning, said in an interview. Microsoft says 20 percent of all VMs running on Azure run Linux.
Asked if he sees any open-source oriented developers still wary of using Microsoft’s cloud, Sirosh said the perception of Microsoft as a Windows-only company is fading. “There is a new breed of developers [who want] to leverage features … whether they are Linux- or Windows-based is becoming less important,” he said. With cloud services, “you really don’t have to know a lot about deep inner details to use these services.”
Azure ML’s embrace of Python also shows just how popular that language has become and that [company]Microsoft[/company] Azure is building on its promise of language agnosticism. “Python has become the number one language of choice for developers. We can now claim to be the most comprehensive analytics service — no other product lets you integrate SQL, R and Python into one project,” Sirosh said.
Microsoft is also making Storm, the open-source stream analytics tool, available for HDInsight with support for both .NET and Java. The company already offered Azure Stream Analytics and will continue to sell, support and upgrade that as well. Storm is another option, Sirosh said.
In the massive public cloud infrastructure arena, Microsoft must contend with [company]Amazon[/company] Web Services and [company]Google[/company] Cloud Platform, both of which are targeting developers with fancy analytics and other services. I agree with Sirosh that Microsoft has done a good job of embracing open-source frameworks and languages in Azure. But the perception, especially among young startups, of Microsoft as a Windows-and-Office-first monolith dies hard.
I’ll be sure to ask Sirosh more about how Microsoft Azure can win over startups as well as big business accounts when we’re on stage next month at Structure Data.
This story was updated at 10:05 a.m. PST to reflect Microsoft’s assertion that 20 percent of all VMs on Azure run Linux