Microsoft’s Azure team loves Open Source 101, including this year’s online version!

Microsoft as a company is the world’s top open source contributor, something most probably don’t realize. Why? What’s the philosophy behind this?

Our corporate mission is to empower every person and organization to achieve more. When we look at open source through that lens we have amazing opportunities to share the evolution of our thoughts and work in open source projects offering customers who want it an inside view of the tools we are creating and leave a space for them to co-create.

There’s a second way which participating in the open source community at large achieves our mission and that is helping Microsoft achieve more with open source components and tools. To answer this question, our team reviewed our internal guidance on consuming open source for our tools, or libraries or even industry standard platforms and was rewarded by this gem —

“We should use the best tool for the job, taking into account the skillsets of our current developers, and those we may hire in the future. We should always have a good reason to write our own solution to a problem already solved by an open source project or product. The default question should be ‘Why not use OSS?’ rather than why.”

This is a huge shift in the culture of Microsoft which has happened in the last 10 years. As the industry has changed, Microsoft has evolved as well.


Tell us about an interesting open source project Microsoft has recently released or perhaps is contributing to…

This is a tough question because we do so much of it. In the last year or so, the team has invested in bringing IPv6 to Kubernetes, has nurtured and grown the community involvement of several of the projects we founded and donated to the CNCF including KEDA and HELM. Has partnered with the Linux Foundation to create the Confidential Computing Consortium and other industry groups as a part of the LF to make safe spaces for companies to collaborate on forward thinking technologies. There is huge investment and adoption of the efforts of the VS Code project and the main languages and frameworks like Typescript and .NET. And of course, Microsoft is super proud of all the work that GitHub does to enable open source developers across the globe.


Your support of Open Source 101 enables many to participate, learn and network. What do you hope attendees gain from the experience?

We hope attendees have a great experience learning and experiencing the community and collaboration of open source. As with any event we support, we hope each attendee takes away a spark of curiosity about something which they were introduced to, a new person to follow up with, and an appreciation of some additional capability or detail about tools they already use.

For Open Source 101 at Home, we hope the attendees take notice of all the details and hard work put in by the organizing team to make this virtual event happen. It was no small feat to flip to virtual and we appreciate it too!


Community is absolutely vital to open source. How do you cultivate open source community and why is it so important?

Community is all about people. Cultivating community is about making space for and rewarding trustworthy and authentic individuals who show up with an intent to improve the project, offer to help and deliver on their offers. The project and leaders in a community need empathy, engagement, and appreciation for the efforts put forward by community members. Good communities have to be safe spaces to try things, to ask questions, to help others, and to make mistakes. Empowering any community member to contribute and grow through clear project vision, community values and good onboarding documentation is a great start to cultivating a strong community.


Jennifer Davis will be delivering a keynote talk at the event. What will she be talking about?

Jennifer will get personal about how open source helped to bring back some normalcy through community and collaboration and encourage everyone to contribute regardless of their current skills. She’ll have an open session after the keynote to help individuals find and make their first contributions.

COVID-19 presents us with an unanticipated crisis that many of us are continuing to struggle with. And while open-source often focuses on what you can do for the community, Jennifer is here to tell you it’s okay to ask “what can the community do for me?” – whether you are a maintainer, a contributor, or a first-time open source participant, it’s about the collaborative culture.


The Azure team is an amazing group of people. How did you bring such a tremendous group of people together?

Microsoft has been on its own transformational journey over the past five to seven years. The updated vision, new corporate values and extraordinary leadership principles are drawing top talent to a re-imagined Microsoft centered on a learn-it-all culture as opposed to a know-it-all culture. This sustained and ever-evolving change has drawn in top talent with varied backgrounds to make a stronger company tightly focused on empowering individuals, businesses, partners, communities and teams across the globe to achieve more.