Microsoft To Host Jenkins on Azure

When I reported last month that Jenkins 2.0 had finally been released, I thought it would be the biggest Jenkins-related story of the year. But this week the Jenkins community announced that it's partnering with Microsoft to move its back-end infrastructure to the Azure cloud -- and I stand corrected.

Microsoft has been providing plug-ins for the open source continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD) server project for a while, but this is an everybody-into-the-deep-end collaboration that the community has decided is essential to the continuing success of that project, which has begun growing at warp speed.

"To support this rapid growth, the Azure resources will provide reliable, secure infrastructure and capabilities spanning Linux Virtual Machines, storage, scaling and load balancing, and software delivery on the Azure platform," a press release issued Wednesday during the OSCON event in Austin, Texas, stated. "With Azure, Jenkins contributors will also have greater capacity and flexibility to build, test and deploy the hundreds of plug-ins that integrate Jenkins into nearly any continuous delivery process."

This move unifies the Jenkins infrastructure -- which has been distributed in four locations among four different infrastructure providers -- on a single, scalable platform. Azure will also host the Jenkins Web site and the Jenkins build that manages the Web site.

Corey Sanders, director of Program Management in Microsoft's Azure Group, and Jenkins community leader R. Tyler Croy both blogged about the news. I spoke with them about their organizations' partnership on a conference call.

"Once you grow past your single set of repositories in an organization on something like GitHub or BitBucket, the needs of the community often grow faster than the ability of the people working on the project to meet those needs," Croy said. "This project has been growing, fast, for five years, and we've outpaced our organically grown, unnecessarily complex infrastructure."

Croy is a Jenkins evangelist and community manager at CloudBees (the chief commercial supporter of Jenkins), and he's been a leader in this community since before the fork from Hudson, so he's seen most of its evolution.

"If I were to give you a list of requirements necessary to run our project's infrastructure, not only today, but where it's going to be three years from now," he said, "Azure checks every one of those boxes."

"Jenkins has clearly become the de facto CI/CD server, and the number of customers and partners that we work with today who are using it has made this community a critical partner for us," Sanders said. "This new collaboration deepens our partnership. We will be able to provide the Jenkins community with the compute resources and technical expertise to build a modern, robust development and delivery infrastructure on Linux and Java in the Azure cloud. And we get to participate in, and learn much more about, this community -- which is one of the great things about partnering on open source projects."

Migrating Jenkins to Azure simplifies and improves the projects' infrastructure in ways that would not be possible without a comprehensive platform, Cory said. Azure provides extensive compute resources, a content delivery network (CDN), storage and data-store services. Among those, the CDN holds special appeal for Croy.

"We've kind of been this ragtag band of a few contributors who care enough about the infrastructure to work on it behind the scenes for a long time now," he said. "Being able to use the Azure CDN means that I can provide end users with end-to-end TLS encrypted packages, plugins, and updates, which is something I've been dreaming of."

It also provides more complete build/test/release support and capacity on for plug-in developers using Azure Container Service and generic VMs, he said.

Croy was quick to point out that, because Jenkins is open source, with all of its Docker containers, Puppet code and tools available on GitHub, the migration-to-Azure process will be transparent. "You, too, can watch at home as we migrate to Azure!" he said.

This partnership is big news, but it shouldn't be surprising. Microsoft has been openly -- and enthusiastically -- embracing open source, and the Jenkins community is nothing if not practical. As the ever insightful IDC analyst Al Hilwa told me last month when I talked with him about Microsoft becoming a member of the Eclipse foundation, "At this point of the game, we should understand that Microsoft means business as a multi-platform and open-source player and begin to be less surprised by these 'hell freezing over' announcements."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].