by Melissa Palmer

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Microsoft recently announced brand new integration between Windows and Linux in the form of SSH support coming in the not so distant future.  Microsoft recently announced on the MSDN blog that the PowerShell team will support, and contribute to the OpenSSH community.  We can venture to guess this integration will be invoked by PowerShell, and availability dates have not yet been confirmed.

If your background is primarily in the Windows domain, you may not be familiar with what SSH is and does.  SSH, also known as Secure Shell is a secure method of remotely establishing a shell session in Linux in order to issue commands, and run scripts.  The session between the two computers is encrypted, so that traffic cannot be read by anyone without the SSH session keys.  For more on how SSH works, you can check out this SSH Tutorial for Linux.  OpenSSH is an open source implementation of the SSH protocol, and is commonly used on a number of platforms.  This joint venture between the Microsoft PowerShell Team and OpenSSH should allow for an enhanced operability between the management of Windows and Linux systems.

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(How an encrypted SSH session works from the SSH Tutorial for Linux)

Many organizations today have some sort of Linux within their infrastructure.  Server teams are often segregated, with one team for Windows and another for Linux.  Linux is popular in many organizations due to its open source nature, and by that we aren’t talking about it being “free”.  Linux’s open source nature means it is highly customizable.  While the source code is free, organizations often turn to a company to provide them a Linux distribution, and more importantly, enterprise level support.

Microsoft has recently been embracing the open source movement.  In fact, Microsoft has been doing quite a lot of work with Linux in particular.  Microsoft catalogs their work in their Openness Blog.  Recent highlights include a preview of Cloud Foundry on Azure.  Cloud Foundry seeks to provide an Open Platform as a Service environment, and in this case takes advantage of the open source Azure Cloud Provider Interface.

Beyond Cloud Foundry on Azure, Microsoft, and Azure in particular have been involved in a number of other open source initiatives.  Perhaps one of the most popular is the integration with Docker.  The Docker Client for Windows is available to kick the tires on, and Docker is also available in the Windows Azure marketplace.

Microsoft has certainly made a pivot in the last few years.  Since its release in 2008, Hyper-V features and usability have grown by leaps and bounds.  The Microsoft Virtualization game has grown in the last few years, as has the Microsoft Cloud game, also known as Azure.  Azure, introduced in 2010 as Windows Azure, has also grown rapidly.  In the public cloud space, Microsoft Azure is able to deliver enhanced integrations with Microsoft applications, making it an extremely rapidly growing cloud provider.  Azure has been extremely successful promising customers enterprise grade cloud services, using products customers are used to on premises in their data center.

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Since Microsoft Azure also supports a number of flavors of Linux in their cloud, adding SSH enhanced interoperability would even further enhance their offerings.  As we see Azure, as well as public cloud in general continue to mature   Adding SSH enhanced interoperability between Windows and Linux environments will continue to build the foundation of these cloud environments, and further Microsoft’s open source strategy on premises as well as off.  For the latest on Azure, be sure to stay current with the Microsoft Azure Blog.

Microsoft’s announcements over the last several years have been very much complimentary to many open source technologies.  The ability to use SSH in Windows could be a great thing for fragmented operations teams, as well as development teams working with a multi operating system environment.  Time will tell how smoothly, as well as how far the integration goes.

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