Microsoft Windows Azure's New Open Source, Other Options Enhance Developer Experience

Microsoft made its Windows Azure cloud computing platform more developer-friendly with a series of enhancements, including new open-source software support, SQL Azure database improvements and more.

Microsoft has announced a series of updates to the Windows Azure platform to help developers build on the cloud computing platform, including new open-source capabilities, SQL Azure database enhancements and a simplified Windows Azure billing and management experience.

Among the new open-source capabilities in Windows Azure, Microsoft said developers will benefit from the first-ever Windows Azure software development kit, including language libraries for Node.js, with support for hosting, storage and service bus. There will also be an Apache Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure and a number of key usability and functional enhancements to Java capabilities.

In a Dec. 12 blog post, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Windows Azure marketing team, said access to Azure libraries for .NET, Java and Node.js is now available under Apache 2 open-source license and hosted on GitHub. A new Windows Azure SDK for Node.js makes Windows Azure a first-class environment for Node applications. In addition, a limited preview of an Apache Hadoop based service for Windows Azure enables Hadoop applications to be deployed in hours instead of days.

Kelly also said:

"Expanding our support for more languages, Node.js language libraries have been added to the Windows Azure SDK. The libraries enable Node.js development capabilities for Windows Azure storage, which includes blob, table, and queues. Windows Azure PowerShell for Node.js is also included in the Windows Azure SDK to provide command-line development and deployment of applications. Along with being packaged in the single Windows Azure SDK download, source code for the Node.js and Java client libraries is also available on To help get started developing with Node.js, new content, tutorials, samples and application templates can be found on (navigate to "Develop")."

In addition, Microsoft announced a major update to the Windows Azure Plug-in for Eclipse with Java, as well as support for other open-source technologies such as MongoDB, Apache Solr and Lucene, and Memcached.

Another key enhancement to Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform is that the maximum database size for SQL Azure will triple, moving from 50GB to 150GB, and will include a new price cap for the largest SQL Azure databases, reducing the effective price 67 percent per gigabyte.

Among the updates to the billing and management experience is a truly free 90-day trial period, including spending caps that simplify the sign-up process. Additionally, customers can check out the new Windows Azure Management Portal to view real-time usage and billing details.