Openness Update for Windows Azure

Openness Update for Windows Azure

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As Microsoft’s Senior Director of Open Source Communities, I couldn’t be happier to share with you today an update on a wide range of Open Source developments on Windows Azure.

As we continue to provide incremental improvements to Windows Azure, we remain committed to working with developer communities. We’ve spent a lot of time listening, and we have heard you loud and clear.

We understand that there are many different technologies that developers may want to use to build applications in the cloud. Developers want to use the tools that best fit their experience, skills, and application requirements, and our goal is to enable that choice.

In keeping with that goal, we are extremely happy to be delivering new and improved experiences for Node.js, MongoDB, Hadoop, Solr and Memcached on Windows Azure.

This delivers on our ongoing commitment to provide an experience where developers can build applications on Windows Azure using the languages and frameworks they already know, enable greater customer flexibility for managing and scaling databases, and making it easier for customers to get started and use cloud computing on their terms with Windows Azure.

Here are the highlights of today’s announcements:

  • We are releasing the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js as open source, available immediately on Github. These libraries are the perfect complement to our recently announced contributions to Node.js and provide a better Node.js experience on Windows Azure. Head to the Windows Azure Developer Center for documentation, tutorial, samples and how-to guides to get you started with Node.js on Windows Azure.
  • We will also be delivering the Node package manager for Windows (npm) code to allow use of npm on Windows for simpler and faster Node.js configuration and development. Windows developers can now use NPM to install Node modules and take advantage of its automated handling of module dependencies and other details.
  • To build on our recent announcement about Apache Hadoop, we are making available a limited preview of the Apache Hadoop based distribution service on Windows Azure.  This enables Hadoop apps to be deployed in hours instead of days, and includes Hadoop Javascript libraries and powerful insights on data through the ODBC driver and Excel plugin for Hive. Read more about this on the Windows Azure team blog. If you are interested in trying this preview, please complete the form here with details of your Big Data scenario.  Microsoft will issue an access code to select customers based on usage scenarios.
  • For all of you NoSQL fans, we have been working closely with 10Gen and the MongoDB community in the past few months, and if you were at at MongoSV last week you have already seen MongoDB running on Windows Azure. Head out to the 10Gen website to find downloads, documentation and other document-oriented goodies. If you’re using the popular combination of Node.js and MongoDB, a simple straightforward install process will get you started on Windows Azure. Learn more here.
  • For Java developers, take a look at the updated Java support, including a new and revamped Eclipse plugin. The new features are too many to list for this post, but you can count on a much better experience thanks to new and exciting functionality such as support for sticky sessions and configuration of remote Java debugging. Head over to the Windows Azure Developer Center to learn more.
  • Does your application need advanced search capabilities? If so, the chances are you either use or are evaluating Solr, and so the good news for you is that we just released a set of code tools and configuration guidelines to get the most out of Solr running on Windows Azure. We invite developers to try out the tools, configuration and sample code for Solr tuned for searching commercial and publisher sites. The published guidance showcases how to configure and host Solr/Lucene in Windows Azure using multi-instance replication for index-serving and single-instance for index generation with a persistent index mounted in Windows Azure storage.
  • Another great example of OSS on Windows Azure is the use of Memcached server, the popular open-source caching technology, to improve the performance of dynamic web applications. Maarten Balliauw recently blogged about his MemcacheScaffolder, which simplifies management of Memcached servers on the Windows Azure platform. That blog post is only focused on PHP, but the same approach can be used by other languages supported by Memcached as well.
  • Scaling data in the Cloud is very important. Today, the SQL Azure team made SQL Azure Federation available.  This new feature provides built-in support for data sharding (horizontal partitioning of data) to elastically scale-out data in the cloud. I am thrilled to announce that concurrent with the release of this new feature, we have released a new specification called SQL Database Federations, which describes additional SQL capabilities that enable data sharding (horizontal partitioning of data) for scalability in the cloud, under the Microsoft Open Specification Promise. With those additional SQL capabilities, the database tier can provide built-in support for data sharding to elastically scale-out data in the cloud, as covered in Ram Jeyaraman’s post on this blog.

In addition to all this great news, the Windows Azure experience has also been significantly improved and streamlined. This includes simplified subscription management and billing, a guaranteed free 90-day trial with quick sign-up process, reduced prices, improved database scale and management, and more. Please see the Windows Azure team blog post for insight on all the great news.

As we enter the holiday season, I’m happy to see Windows Azure continuing on its roadmap of embracing OSS tools developers know and love, by working collaboratively with the open source community to build together a better cloud that supports all developers and their need for interoperable solutions based on developer choice.

In conclusion, I just want to stress that we intend to keep listening, so please send us your feedback. Rest assured we’ll take note!

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