Open data is becoming increasingly important for governments and public research. Based on the openness and interoperability of the Windows Azure platform, open data technologies are enabling more open data to be available in the cloud. CKAN (Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network) is one of the most popular open data platforms in use by Governments, universities and enterprises around the globe. Here at Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. we are pleased to see open source platforms such as CKAN taking advantage of the scalability, flexibility, openness and interoperability features of Windows Azure.
Deploy CKAN in the Cloud using VM Depot and Windows Azure
CKAN is an open source, web-based data management system that makes data accessible by providing tools to streamline publishing, sharing, finding and using data. CKAN is aimed at data publishers (national and regional governments, universities, companies and organizations) wanting to make their data open and available. The CKAN project is maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) and implementations are commonly used as a public platform for various government data catalogues, such as the UK's http://data.gov.uk and US http://data.gov. Indeed, the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) is using the capabilities of CKAN and Windows Azure to host their weather data archives and make the data broadly available via http://data.gov.uk/metoffice-data-archive.
Developers wishing to deploy a CKAN installation in the cloud can now do so using the CKAN images available on VM Depot. Microsoft Public Sector and Microsoft Open Tech has partnered with OKFN who have provided CKAN Version 2 as an Ubuntu VM running on Windows Azure. There are two methods to install CKAN on Azure using the images available on VM Depot: through the management interface and using the command line tool. For a step-by-step guide to deploying CKAN on Windows Azure, see the CKAN Wiki.
CKAN and Azure in Yokohama City
Yokohama City, which is the largest city in Japan, recently published its Yokohama Open Data Solution using CKAN running with Windows Azure and supported by the Japan Linked Open Data Initiative. This is the first implementation in Japan of CKAN and Windows Azure for a local open data catalogue. As well as Japanese, the catalogue is available in several languages, including English – see more here http://data.yokohamaopendata.jp/en/.
Windows Azure and OData
Data that is hosted on Windows Azure can also be published using the Windows Azure Marketplace which utilizes the OData open data protocol. For example, because the Windows Azure Marketplace provides support for OData, citizens and developers can easily analyze the aforementioned UK National Weather data using an OData feed which allows the use of tools such as PowerPivot within Excel. This provides unprecedented access to powerful meteorological data including hourly, daily, and five-day forecasts - see the Microsoft in Government Blog Big Weather, Big Data, and That Little Device You Carry for further details on how this data is being used. Based on a collaboration between Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Progress Software, SAP AG, WSO2, and others, we recently announced that the OASIS OData Technical Committee initiated a public review of OData v4.0 which is expected to become an OASIS Standard in 2013.
These open data initiatives add to the many open data projects based on Windows Azure. Together they facilitate openness and transparency in public data. This work provides an extremely solid foundation upon which open data services can be built. When coupled with our work on cross platform client side tooling, developers are provided with an environment in which new and exciting opportunities are revealed. We look forward to working with you as we strive to open yet more data.
Ross Gardler, Senior Technical Evangelist Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.
Mark Gayler, Senior Technical Evangelist Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.