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December 14, 2023updated 15 Dec 2023 9:16am

LinkedIn snubs parent company Microsoft’s Azure cloud to stay on-prem

The social media platform has had a change of heart and will stay on-prem instead.

By Greg Noone

LinkedIn has confirmed that it will no longer relocate its data or services to parent company Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Instead, the professional social media network – which has been under Microsoft’s control since 2016 – will continue to run its own data centres. 

LinkedIn has canned its planned cloud migration. (Photo by Natee Meepian/Shutterstock)

The migration was announced back in 2019, but a spokesperson for LinkedIn confirmed today that the move will now not go ahead. The spokesperson told CNBC, which broke the story, that LinkedIn continued to utilise Azure services at a smaller scale than initially envisioned. “We are using both Azure to complement our infrastructure needs and further investing in our data centres,” they said. “Azure has been crucial to support and scale collaboration and productivity for our teams and to deliver value to our members.”

LinkedIn, which has 950 million members worldwide, has been using Azure primarily for supporting tasks such as machine translation and video delivery.

LinkedIn calls off Microsoft Azure cloud migration

The migration, dubbed “Blueshift”, was originally announced by LinkedIn four years ago. A blog post by its then-vice president of engineering, Mohak Shroff, explained that the move to Azure would “give us access to a wide array of hardware and software innovations, and unprecedented global scale.” 

Signs that the migration would be canned emerged last year, however. In response to questions from staff asking whether the project was continuing, LinkedIn’s chief technology officer, Raghu Hiremagalur, explained in an internal memo that the company would “focus our efforts on scaling and innovating our on-prem infrastructure”.

One of the main reasons why LinkedIn called off Blueshift, according to CNBC, was because of its continued enthusiasm for its in-house software tools over those supported by Azure. As such, the social media company is now building a new data centre to accommodate its specific needs.

LinkedIn decision a setback for Microsoft

LinkedIn’s change of heart represents a snub to Microsoft Azure, which has been growing its share of the public cloud but still trails a long way behind market leader Amazon’s AWS. In October, the company reported third-quarter revenue for Azure rising by 29%, thanks largely to a raft of new AI services being offered through the platform thanks to Microsoft’s partnership with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI.

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Though it has failed to convince LinkedIn of the merits of Azure, Microsoft has successfully moved the data and services of other subsidiaries such as Mojang and GitHub to the platform in recent years. 

While the cloud is widely viewed as a cost-effective way to run workloads and access compute power, some tech leaders are questioning whether it offers value for money. Earlier this year, David Heinemeier Hansson, founder of project management software company Basecamp, said the business had repatriated all its products from AWS to its own servers, a move he believes will save his company $1.5m a year.

Read more: Ofcom and CMA target AWS and Azure with UK cloud market antitrust probe

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