In my adventures around the Mountain area spreading the good word of DevOps and making IT shops hip, I find interesting things…surprising things. It is even better when I can be the one giving the surprise with a simple statement: “Yes, we work with Windows really well“. Honestly, Windows has become a good percentage of my conversations the last months.

There are two key reasons, from my perspective, why that simple statement carries significant impact and why it comes up so often:

  • Microsoft has become cool again
  • Traditional automation and configuration management platforms that cater to Windows are missing some of the extra mile functionality that modern, faster organizations need.

I am a UNIX child. Some of my early interactions with operating systems were with Sun, SGI, IBM stuff. The big iron monsters that took significant space in data centers which looked like enclosed, clean quarries churning out application data. Back then, Microsoft had DOS, Windows for Workgroups, and Windows 95. The latter, some of us PowerPC kiddies labeled as Microsoft’s MacOS 1.0. Microsoft was also seen as driven to take over the world under an evil, conspiratorial plan. Simply said, it wasn’t cool to be into what MS was doing.

IT then navigated around a good portion of years witnessing the rise of Linux on the data center, displacing a lot of the fridge-sized, expensive big UNIX machines, and the forceful wind of change that open-source software brought. Such events, and many other ones, gave the ability and flexibility, for tools to be developed for managing the growth of systems and provide assurance, integrity in the servers that now ran our businesses or publish cute cat pictures on the interwebs! Those tools matured and grew themselves thanks to their openness and strong communities that actively contributed pieces to them. As an example, Puppet became a mainstay and a necessary tool across the IT landscape quickly.

The automation, configuration management tools that were born quietly became associated just with *nix operating systems and no one noticed that they also had been building support for Microsoft Windows. Now Microsoft, under their new excellent leadership and embrace of open-source has become, almost overnight, a reborn cool company that the younger IT professional loves. More and more I have noticed the growing presence of MS-backed database servers, middleware and web servers.

Data centers, on premise or public clouds, now run Windows and Linux alongside each other in great harmony. Some are actually multi-tier application providers that run parts on each OS. It is really attractive now the fact that those beloved tools that *nix kids used and developed into strong platforms that automate, manage, and even orchestrate application deployments already have the robust hooks to manage those Microsoft servers.

Some of my favorite meeting and presentation moments include a gigantic smile I give right before I address this statement: “But you guys only work on Linux and I just have a couple of those”. After that smile, my reply is usually: “Let’s build a domain controller, an IIS Server, and join it to the domain. C’mon it will be fun.” The surprise when the set is built with Puppet is very rewarding. One day….just one day, I will Candid Camera the moment!

So…Microsoft folks, welcome to the cool group sitting on the back of the classroom again! Join my punks, rebels, thrashers and the like, as we help you keep those servers humming peacefully and managed along side those Linux boxes…and those AIX, Solaris systems sitting wayyyy back there (that’s for another post!).


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