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At Last! Microsoft and Red Hat Sign Cloud Pact

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Here’s an alliance that truly was customer driven. After years of requests, Microsoft and Red Hat have blessed the use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

Because of longstanding customer pressure, Red Hat chief executive Jim Whitehurst’s recent hints that a deal was in the works and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s pledge to make Azure a welcoming home for non-Windows software, many had wondered what had taken this pact so long to gel.

Microsoft cloud chief Scott Guthrie wrote about the deal in a blog post, saying that customer interest in bringing existing technologies into the cloud helped drive the agreement.

“Businesses continue to grapple with the challenge of bringing together existing on-premises investments with a cloud environment for greater speed, scale and cost benefits. Hybrid cloud has emerged as a way to solve this,” he wrote.

And, those same business customers also want to be able to choose their tools and operating systems running in the cloud, just as they wanted to choose the tools and operating systems running in their on-premises server rooms.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (or RHEL) is used by big companies that require the use of software officially supported by its provider. RHEL is also an open source operating system, but customers pay for official support and maintenance. Microsoft (MSFT) is pitching Azure as the best cloud for big companies’ computing and storage tasks.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has dubbed RHEL as “the preferred” version of Linux, which probably won’t sit well with SUSE, Canonical, Oracle and other Linux providers that had already agreed to have their operating systems run on Microsoft’s public cloud.

This deal means that RHEL as well as JBOSS—Red Hat’s middleware software—will be officially available on Azure in the next few weeks and will be jointly supported by the two tech companies.

The two companies will also work together to bridge their respective development environments and ensure that customers running both sets of technology can manage them in a centralized way.

Make sure to check out Nadella’s Fortune Q&A here.

For more on Microsoft’s cloud technology, check out the following Fortune video:

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