A decade ago, the idea of Microsoft creating a Linux certification would have seemed like lunacy. But now that very thing has come to pass, with the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure certification, designed in conjunction with the Linux Foundation.
As the name suggests, those with the certification have (in theory) the ability to design and maintain Linux deployments on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform for deploying and managing applications and services.
Earning the Linux on Azure certification requires tech pros to pass Microsoft Exam 70-533 (Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions) as well as the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) exam, which collectively require knowledge of Linux and Azure implementation.
Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, issued a boilerplate statement to accompany the announcement: “A Microsoft-issued certification that includes the Linux Foundation Certified SysAdmin exam will most definitely allow professionals to stand apart from their peers and allow them the opportunity to work on the most interesting technologies of our time.”
For years, Microsoft took an antagonistic approach to open-source. Former CEO Steve Ballmer once publicly referred to Linux as a “cancer.” Not content to just let Ballmer blow up about it, company also spent a good deal of money and legal effort on claiming that open-source software violated its patents.
With the rise of current CEO Satya Nadella, however, things have started to change. Although Microsoft depends greatly on proprietary-software franchises such as Windows and Office to drive revenue, the company recognizes that open-source technology increasingly powers the cloud and mobile, and that it needs to play nice with the open-source community if it wants to survive and evolve.
In late October, Microsoft announced that it wants open-source experts to join its Azure team. “From making the full server-side .NET stack open source to offering a fully managed Apache Hadoop service on Linux and betting big on Docker containers,” read a posting on Microsoft’s corporate blog, “we’re showing that openness is ingrained in our approach to business.”
Those jobs (like the new Linux on Azure certification) demand equal familiarity with open-source and Microsoft technologies, in addition to technical experience in areas such as database architecture and application design. If you’re on the hunt for a job with Microsoft, knowledge of open-source in addition to the company’s software seems like an increasingly important requirement.