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Microsoft headhunters seek Linux folk for secret open source unit

Recruiters target penguinistas for Azure sales joy

Exclusive Microsoft is recruiting from open-sourcers to build a unit apparently selling open-source wares on its Azure cloud.

Recruiters working on behalf of Microsoft have been contacting employees of Linux firms, interviewing them for what’s being called an open source practice.

Microsoft is specifically looking for those with knowledge of Linux, Ansible, Docker and Chef.

One Reg reader working for a well-known Linux distro firm told us he’d been interviewed to fill a role in pre-sales in Redmond's new open-source practice.

He said he’d been told by the interviewer that Microsoft is “very keen” to build relationships “as a result of a change of attitude towards open source technology”, the drive for which is coming from chief executive Satya Nadella.

Microsoft did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Redmond and the open source world

Microsoft already runs Open Technologies, a subsidiary under president Jean Paoli. Open Technologies has worked to improve the way Linux, Java, Node.js, Chef, Puppet and Docker run on Azure via SDKs tools, plug-ins and integration. It has extended earlier work to simply make such technologies work better on its Windows runtime and on server products, such as SQL Server.

Paoli was a co-author of XML, along with Tim Bray and others, and joined Microsoft in 1996.

The current status of Open Technologies is unclear, with the unit’s last update dating back to July 2015.

However, the fact Microsoft is recruiting for pre-sales in its planned practice suggests the software giant is moving from pure engineering and integration between open source and its own technologies to actively selling open source as part of a package, or an option running on its Azure cloud.

This is a repeat of the strategy to get open-source software running on Windows Server, to help preserve sales of Windows and prevent losses to Linux. Nadella hails from that old Windows Server unit, where he was vice president of the server and tools unit.

Microsoft now needs to ensure open source platforms, languages, frameworks and tools run equally well on Azure cloud, rather than lose out to AWS.

The company claimed revenue growth of five per cent in its intelligent cloud business to $6.3bn in the final quarter of 2015. Intelligent cloud includes Azure. It also claimed a 140 per cent increase in Azure revenue, year-on-year. ®

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