Microsoft edged another step toward making Azure Service Fabric open source. The company released not the long-awaited Service Fabric source code but the next best thing: an official, supported release of Service Fabric on Linux. With Azure Service Fabric for Linux, customers can now provision Service Fabric clusters in Azure using Linux as the host operating system and deploy Java applications to Service Fabric clusters.
Service Fabric is basically Microsoft’s microservices application platform that was released to developers back in 2015. For now, Service Fabric is only available on Ubuntu, but support for RHEL should come before the end of 2016.
“We’re excited that with our ongoing enhancements of Service Fabric’s capabilities and reach, more businesses will be able to take advantage of our innovations to power their own applications,” says Microsoft via its blog.
It’s clear Microsoft is supporting Linux on a large scale these days, and that’s good for business. It simply means more developers will have the option to use Azure seeing as they are not tied to a single operating system.
Microsoft itself has been using the microservices approach internally for seven years. It wasn’t until the cloud went mainstream, though, that this approach became something smaller companies could use, too. Microsoft’s internal use of microservices and Service Fabric means that the service is both battle-hardened and fully featured.
Microsoft’s motivation for this move is the same one that was behind the release of an edition of SQL Server for Linux, or making Poweshell Linux compatible: “Most enterprises today host a mixture of Windows Server and Linux servers,” Russinovich said, and Microsoft is depriving itself of opportunities by not delivering products specifically for that platform.
The first public releases of Service Fabric on Linux are scheduled for Sept. 26, at Microsoft’s Ignite conference. This release is not open source — it’s a binary-only release initially targeted at a limited subset of Linux systems. Microsoft’s first target distribution for Service Fabric on Linux is Ubuntu 16.04. The company has good reason for targeting that exact version. For one, Ubuntu 16.04 is an LTS release, meaning Ubuntu Server is guaranteed to have support for five years. Ubuntu in general has also been positioned by Canonical as a building block for modern container- and microservices-based cloud creations, so it’s a good fit for one of Microsoft’s initial Linux platforms.
Microsoft’s attitude toward Linux has experienced a radical shift over the last couple of years. Linux is no longer simply a competing ecosystem, which Microsoft grudgingly acknowledged and supported mainly as part of its efforts around Hyper-V. Now it’s a full-blown target for the company’s applications and infrastructure efforts.
Still, at least some of the old Microsoft’s motives remain. Embracing Linux is a way for Microsoft to deliver its products in a greater number of places. Check out this video by Microsoft for more details.