Microsoft's Azure appears to be going through a tremendous growth phase. What was once termed by Microsoft as a cancer, Linux is propelling Azure to new heights. While Amazon Web Services (AWS) is clearly the leader in the clubhouse, Azure is no dysfunctional step child. And, this can largely be attributed to its embrace of its open source opponent. A shout out to Satya Nadella is more than likely warranted in this instance. From a distance, it appears his appointment to CEO in 2014 changed Microsoft's stance on open source software. And, he was the EVP of Microsoft's cloud business prior to this promotion. No more were attempts to bash a once rival. It instead started to embrace and integrate its foe. The results have been interesting to follow.

In our latest skills watch, Azure continues to impress. Over the course of the last four years, the amount of instances where Azure was mentioned in specific open source job openings has increased five fold. What we are seeing seems to mimic what Microsoft itself is saying. In a ZDNet article published during the latter part of last year, Microsoft executives discuss the growth they have seen in instances running Linux on Azure. From 2015 to 2018, Microsoft saw the number of Azure virtual machines running Linux grow from 25% to 50%. That is a quite notable growth trajectory in a fairly short time frame.

Will this growth continue? It might be hard to keep up the recent pace, but it appears that it likely will. Microsoft continues to expand its boundaries around open source software. Providing customers that level of flexibility can not only assist in maintaining its existing clientele, but it provides an avenue to attract new ones. It took a number of years to get Microsoft to join the open source party, but after a few sips, it appears that it is now a willing participant. It is hard to have such a dynamic shift in policy, however, one must applaud Microsoft for finally acknowledging its initial mistake. As a result, the benefits are clearly being realized as it gains a level playing field with its closest competitors.