LinkedIn has ceased the complete migration of its datacenter infrastructure to Microsoft Azure, a significant change of plan since the intent was announced in 2019. Sources familiar with the matter disclosed to CNBC that the company encountered several obstacles over the years following its acquisition by Microsoft in 2016 for $27 billion. In response, a LinkedIn spokesperson confirmed that while the company will continue to invest in its own datacenters, it will also make use of Azure services in certain areas.
The professional networking giant reported that Azure has been foundational in supporting and scaling the collaborative efforts of LinkedIn teams to provide service to its members. Currently, LinkedIn is operating 100 employee-facing applications on Azure, has integrated Azure FrontDoor for content delivery, and is in the process of consolidating its scattered datacenter locations into a single facility.
Challenges of a Full-Scale Migration
Initial excitement for the migration to Azure was palpable when LinkedIn's SVP of Engineering, Mohak Shroff, expressed that the move to a public cloud would allow LinkedIn to leverage a breadth of technical innovations and achieve unparalleled global scale. This enthusiasm was in line with the increasing interest in public cloud services that promise scalability, robustness, and cost savings compared to maintaining private datacenter infrastructure.
However, the journey has not been as smooth as anticipated. Throughout the endeavor, LinkedIn found that transferring its existing software tools to Azure was more complex than predicted. Rather than adapting Azure's tailor-made tools, LinkedIn tried to directly move its current applications, which led to compatibility issues and integration challenges. These difficulties were significant enough that by mid-2022, LinkedIn's CTO, Raghu Hiremagalur, informed employees of a strategic pivot toward a hybrid-cloud model.
The Hybrid Cloud Compromise
A hybrid-cloud model offers a balanced approach, with some services running on the cloud and others within the company's proprietary datacenters. This method accommodates the particular intricacies of LinkedIn's infrastructure, which seems to integrate better with the flexibility of a hybrid solution.
The decision to moderate Azure's use comes at a time when cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Google are in a fierce competition to on-board large corporations onto their platforms and services. LinkedIn's challenge in implementing a full migration underscores the complexities that large enterprises can face when attempting to switch to public cloud platforms, highlighting the necessity for adaptable migration strategies that cater to unique business needs.
In conclusion, while Azure will still play a role in LinkedIn's operations, the original plan for a complete migration has been set aside. Instead, LinkedIn is focusing on maximizing the benefits of its existing datacenters while selectively employing Azure's capabilities where they integrate most effectively.