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For your OSS image building and sharing pleasure … meet VM Depot from MS Open Tech

By Gianugo Rabellino
Senior Director Open Source Communities
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

As I write this, I’m exploring the public preview of VM Depot, a new service from Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. VM Depot is a community-driven catalog of open source virtual machine images for Windows Azure. On VM Depot the community can build, deploy and share their favorite Linux configuration, create custom open source stacks, work with others and build new architectures for the cloud that leverage the openness and flexibility of the Windows Azure platform.

The preview launch of VM Depot today is an introduction of things to come: you can already easily deploy different Linux-based virtual machines that include custom and curated installations and configurations. (We have the latest, full-fledged distributions of Debian, Alt Linux and Mageia for your hacking pleasure.) You can comment on them. You can rate them. And, what’s more, you can remix them to your liking and possibly share the results with other members of the community. Or why don’t you go ahead and just create a new one from scratch with your favorite software? For ultimate speed, you can quickly deploy images already customized for specific business scenarios. All this is just a few clicks away, completely free of charge and just waiting for your input to make it better. To learn more, see Getting Started with VM Depot.

VM Depot is another illustration of how the Azure platform is effectively open. As complex as it may seem, VM Depot was relatively easy to build as it relies exclusively on published Azure APIs. As we explore the meaning of openness and interoperability of cloud platforms, I can now say that Windows Azure is at the forefront of the debate and provides compelling proof that documented APIs can do wonders to enable building amazing new applications that leverage the cloud.

Some days you can’t help smiling. I had a big smile on my face back in June when Microsoft announced it was making preconfigured Linux imagesavailable in Windows Azuregalleryand today I have another reason to be happy as I see how Microsoft Open Technologies is helping open source communities work even more collaboratively with the Windows Azure platform.

VM Depot wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a number of partners who have contributed images and packages for this preview launch, including Alt Linux, Basho, Bitnami and Hupstream. Here what they have to say about VM Depot:

"Ease of deployment is one of the key discussions we have with all of the companies leveraging Riak for their highly-available, scalable data storage needs. The VM Depot indicates that Microsoft Open Technologies is dedicated to supporting the needs of today's enterprise with the Windows Azure Platform" - Tyler Hannan, Director of Technical Marketing, Basho Technologies, Inc.

“The launch of Azure Virtual Images and now the VM Depot demonstrate that Microsoft is serious about building out its cloud computing platform. We are thrilled to be a part of this new marketplace, which simplifies deployment of the top open source applications to the enterprise-ready Azure platform, taking Windows Azure to a whole new level.” – Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock, developers of Bitnami

“The demand for cloud computing is there, and Hupstream had the skills to adapt a distribution to the specifics of cloud computing, and provide support as needed. We also wanted to make Debian and Mageia more accessible, and cloud platforms are the simplest way to get started. This was also an opportunity to establish a conversation between actors that traditionally shun each other. Notably, we had excellent collaboration with Microsoft engineers and other community members, while working on a common goal: expanding the reach of developers with Linux.” – Romain d'Alverny, Managing Partner & Engineer at hupstream

I have been doing a fair amount of traveling for MS Open Tech lately where I’ve met a number of great people from the open source community. After a wonderful holiday break, we’re off to an exciting and busy New Year. I know I will use every free moment this month to peek at the VM Depot dashboard and see our latest creation take its first baby steps. Expect more in the upcoming weeks and please help us make VM Depot the best place for open source communities to work together and build shared images for the cloud. See you there.