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LinkedIn is moving to Microsoft's Azure public cloud three years after $27 billion acquisition

Key Points
  • LinkedIn has maintained its own data center infrastructure since the 2016 acquisition, even though many other Microsoft services have adopted Azure.
  • Everything on LinkedIn infrastructure is now moving to Azure in a multi-year effort.
  • LinkedIn has 645 million members, up almost 50% from the time of the purchase.
Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Linkedin Executive Chairman and co-founder Reid Hoffman.
Source: Linkedin

LinkedIn said on Tuesday that it's finally migrating computing workloads from its own equipment to the Azure public cloud, entrusting its critical data with parent company Microsoft.

The move shows that LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired for $27 billion in 2016, finally sees Azure as reliable enough for its services. Microsoft has emerged as the clear No. 2 in cloud infrastructure, behind Amazon Web Services, and has been pulling more of its internal services over to Azure. AWS has also turned more to its own technology, decreasing its use of database software from Oracle.

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In a blog post on Monday, Mohak Shroff, senior vice president of engineering at LinkedIn, said the shift will take place over multiple years.

"The cloud holds the future for us and we are confident that Azure is the right platform to build on for years to come," Shroff wrote. A LinkedIn spokesperson told CNBC that the move will be "cost-neutral" to Linkedin and will produce efficiencies over time.

Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella (R) and Daimler AG and Mercedes Benz chairperson Dieter Zetsche (C) hold a panel discussion at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on February 25, 2019.
LLUIS GENE | AFP | Getty Images

LinkedIn has long operated its own data centers in California, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Singapore, among other locations. At the time of the acquisition, it didn't commit to moving to Azure, but later started using the Microsoft cloud services in a limited capacity.

Kevin Scott, Microsoft's chief technology officer and formerly senior vice president of engineering and operations at LinkedIn, told CNBC in an interview in March that LinkedIn executives previously discussed a cloud migration and were finally "making serious plans" to analyze a move.

"We would literally at LinkedIn do this annual exercise of — we would cost out what a forklift move to a cloud would look like every year," said Scott, who assumed his leadership role at Microsoft in 2017. "I was in charge of the engineering team. The economics didn't make sense yet, but it got closer every year."

The majority of Microsoft's consumer and business-focused cloud services run on Azure, Julia White, corporate vice president at Microsoft, told CNBC last year. That includes most of the Office 365 productivity apps like Microsoft Teams.

LinkedIn now has more than 645 million members, up almost 50% from when Microsoft announced the purchase. The business social network represents about 5% of Microsoft's revenue.

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