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Microsoft’s Next Cloud Operating System: Windows, Linux, Or…

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

When Microsoft announces Q3 2016 earnings later today, the company will surely point to Office 365 and Azure cloud momentum. Admittedly, Microsoft’s growing cloud success involves the company’s ever-expanding support of Linux. But the cloud operating system journey won’t likely end there…

The journey started around 2006, when Microsoft opened its arms to SUSE Linux. Critics wondered if Steve Ballmer was somehow using the deal as a Trojan Horse to bait-and-switch SUSE customers to Windows Server.

But as Microsoft’s CEO crown transitioned from Ballmer to Satya Nadella in 2014, the conspiracy theories quieted down. Nadella was serious about open source. And he strengthened Microsoft’s relationships with Red Hat and Canonical’s Ubuntu. These days, the Ubuntu relationship stretches from Windows 10 to the cloud.

No doubt, Microsoft is pretty darn busy optimizing Windows Server to scale the Azure cloud. And the company has its hands full supporting multiple Linux distributions in Azure. Heck, even Oracle Linux is supported.

Another Cloud Operating System Emerges

Still, all of that platform support hasn’t stopped Microsoft from scouring the cloud market to figure out “what’s next.”

The answer could involve Mesosphere’s Data Center Operating System (DC/OS). As TechCrunch eloquently states, Mesosphere:

“aims to allow developers and admins to treat a data center as a single computer that runs applications in software containers. It’s based on a number of open-source projects, including the Apache Mesos cluster manager and projects like the Chronos scheduler and the Marathon container orchestration platform.”

True believers in that vision include Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise — both of which have invested in the company.

Is Mesosphere Really An Operating System?

In some ways, it’s unfair to call Mesosphere and operating system. Instead, it’s all about running containers (Docker, etc.) in production. Mesosphere, which just open sourced much of its technology, details the strategy a bit in this YouTube video:

Still, if you want to make a big impact in the software world it’s wise to brand your technology as an operating system. After all, everyone from a novice investor all the way up to a CIO understands that operation systems drive the world.

Apple iOS and Android dominate mobile. Windows and Mac OS dominate desktops. Windows and Linux dominate servers and data centers.

But, keep your eye on Mesosphere. I haven’t heard about a partner program just yet. But with Microsoft and HP Enterprise in the room, it’s a safe bet more partner tools are coming…

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