Microsoft joins Open Infrastructure Foundation to boost hybrid cloud effort

Microsoft signed on as a platinum member of the Open Infrastructure Foundation (OIF), offering up its expertise around hybrid cloud operations and pledging to incorporate some of the group’s open source projects into its Azure product roadmap.

Mark Collier, OIF’s COO, told Fierce that as a platinum-tier member, Microsoft has committed to contribute $350,000 in funding per year for three years. In exchange, it gets a seat on OIF’s board, which is responsible for setting the group’s annual budget and project priorities.

The cloud giant, which recently acquired AT&T’s Network Cloud platform, will officially replace the operator as OIF’s ninth platinum member in January 2022 and join fellow top-tier members Ant Group, Ericsson, Facebook, FiberHome, Huawei, Red Hat, Tencent and Wind River.

Though Ant Group and Tencent both have cloud experience, Collier highlighted Microsoft as a major get given it is the first of the big three U.S. cloud providers to join OIF. He noted a recent OpenStack User Survey found 40% of users running deployments in a multi-cloud configuration are already using Microsoft Azure.

Collier said he expects Microsoft to offer key contributions around hybrid cloud, cloud security, the intelligent edge and operating at scale. In the hybrid cloud space specifically, he said Microsoft could be instrumental in helping bridge different cloud environments.

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“This is a big moment for us,” he said. “I think it just kind of validates the vision that we’re looking at the next decade of open infrastructure. We want to build it in the open and we want to do it with the support of companies like Microsoft.”

Ryan van Wyk, Microsoft’s partner software engineering manager for Azure for Operators, said in a statement it was joining OIF’s forward looking effort “because hybrid cloud is an important element of our technology portfolio.” He added “we believe in a variety of clouds: public and private, from hyperscale to edge, each tuned to the unique workloads that our customers need to deliver and we can’t do it without open source.”

Formerly known as the OpenStack Foundation, OIF announced a name change in October 2020 to reflect a broader focus on building open infrastructure software. The group currently has more than 60 member organizations, with projects covering cloud management (AirShip), containers (Kata Containers), edge computing (StarlingX), data center clouds and AI. Most recently, the group stepped up to tackle mobile packet core software with a number of other industry players as part of the Magma 5G project.

While Collier said it’s not announcing any new initiatives as part of the Microsoft announcement, he acknowledged there are “big opportunities” to tackle fresh projects going forward.