Microsoft’s current strategy seems to be based on building bridges. In 2014, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “Microsoft loves Linux.” This came as a shock to many Microsoft advocates given that former CEO, Steve Ballmer, called Linux a “cancer” in 2001. Yet, in March of 2016, Microsoft announced it would develop a Linux version of SQL Server (cue the gasps). Windows admins everywhere were filled with both wonder and anxiety.
Imagine spending your career learning the ins and outs of SQL server administration only to be caught off guard by this announcement, and then furiously studying open source skills to get yourself up to speed. With the addition of Bash to Windows 10, you can now run Linux shell programs. Then, in November of 2016, Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation.
These moves confirm that Nadella recognizes how many organizations function in a heterogeneous environment. This is about Microsoft staying relevant to the needs of the modern consumer. Many Windows admins now have a learning curve ahead of them.
Microsoft’s Open Source Initiative is Widely Praised
For a while, Microsoft seemed to be turning into a dinosaur. Once the hot, new kid on the block, it was just a matter of time before they became too large to care about the needs of the average and fluid consumer. Well, breaking down the wall between Linux and Windows seems to have returned some of Microsoft’s street cred. Over the past two years, Microsoft has seen rising revenues, and many analysts believe Linux has helped to stoke the profit fire.
Formerly-skeptical users and developers are coming back to Microsoft and giving the company more respect. Prior to the Linux strategy, many users felt Microsoft wasn’t broad enough to meet all of their needs. This is huge for companies who have mixed workloads such as running a LAMP stack along with Active Directory to ensure authentication.
Yet, Microsoft made the move to start embracing Linux environments in 2008 by designing System Center and Hyper-V to work well even in an open source environment. Not to mention, about four years ago, Microsoft supported several distributions of Linux for its Azure cloud environment. Then, last year, the company supported Red Hat’s distribution. This puts power in the hands of the user, who can more conveniently select their hardware and operating system.
As a result of that support, Azure had 93 percent year-over-year growth between 2015 and 2016. Microsoft will deliver SQL Server on Linux later this year, which will allow Windows Server to transfer data either through the cloud or on premise.
Windows vs. Linux
Linux is a logical strategy for Microsoft as enterprise computing continues to move into the cloud. This is because Linux is well-understood as a cloud environment. An increasing number of companies are moving their computing into public and private clouds. Linux keeps Microsoft in the game. It’s quite possible that SharePoint Server and Exchange Server may also offer Linux. It’s just a matter of how dependent the products are on Windows.
For open source gurus, the Windows administration is similar to Linux. If you install software, both Windows and Linux may create additional user accounts. And, avoiding the command line is considered a cardinal sin of Linux administration. Of course, experience with shell programming and architecture is essential for open source gurus.
And, it will be necessary to understand Microsoft PowerShell. In August 2016, Microsoft released PowerShell for Linux. This is designed to help manage systems outside the Windows environment. Plus, as an automation and configuration tool, it can run on Linux and Mac OS platforms. Windows admins often focus more on:
- Active Directory
- Exchange Server
- SharePoint Server
On the other hand, Linux admins tend to focus more on:
- Java servers
- Web servers
Where many Windows admins need GUIs and mice, Linux admins need a keyboard. PowerShell helps to place that in a happy medium through its open source configuration capabilities.
In addition, Microsoft is now focusing more on server admin with PowerShell instead of the GUI. This is good news for open source gurus. Yet, without a working knowledge of PowerShell, it will be difficult for SysAdmins to find consistent work. With regard to PowerShell, it is important to learn about:
- Implementation and troubleshooting PowerShell remoting
- Regular expressions
- PowerShell scripting and toolmaking
As you can see, Linux is helping Microsoft get their mojo back. To gain a better understanding, feel free to browse our Microsoft training courses to open up more career opportunities.
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