Microsoft, Azul Partner to Bring OpenJDK to Windows Azure

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-07-24

Microsoft, Azul Partner to Bring OpenJDK to Windows Azure

Looking to expand the number and types of workloads that run on its Windows Azure cloud, Microsoft is partnering with Azul Systems to deliver an OpenJDK build for Windows Azure.

At the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) on July 24, Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech), a subsidiary of Microsoft dedicated to bridging Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies, and Azul Systems, a provider of Java runtime scalability solutions, announced that they are partnering on a Windows distribution build of the community-driven open-source Java implementation, known as OpenJDK, for Windows Server on the Windows Azure platform.

As part of this partnership, Azul Systems will build, certify and distribute a compliant OpenJDK-based distribution meeting the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) specification for use with Windows Server environments on Azure. The new OpenJDK-based offering will be freely distributed and licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) with the Classpath Exception. A preview or limited beta version of the technology will be available in the fall with general availability by year end, the companies said.

Open source is now a key building block for enterprise IT strategies, Microsoft officials said. Customers also require choice in where and how they deploy new and existing Java applications. Through this partnership, the global community of Java developers gains access to open-source Java on the Windows Azure cloud. It will also serve the growing number of Java applications that small and midsize businesses as well as large global enterprises depend on to run their operations.

 "This initiative is all about bringing Java to the masses in the cloud," Scott Sellers, Azul Systems president and CEO, said in a statement. "We will be providing a fully open and unconstrained Java environment —with open choice of third-party stacks — for developers and essential applications deployed on Windows Azure."

The partnership was a natural decision, Jean Paoli, president of MS Open Tech, said in a statement. "[The companies] are motivated by a common goal to make the world of mixed IT environments work better together for customers," Paoli said in the statement. "This partnership will enable developers and IT professionals to ensure their mission-critical apps deploy and run smoothly on Windows Azure, using the open-source Java environment they prefer."

Gianugo Rabellino, senior director of open-source communities at MS Open Tech, told eWEEK the partnership with Azul is "complementary" to the one Microsoft made with Oracle last month to enable customers to run Oracle software —including Java, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server—on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure.


Microsoft, Azul Partner to Bring OpenJDK to Windows Azure

"We needed to do this," Rabellino said. "We are constantly improving our platform, and we knew on the Java front we needed to do better. This is what our customers have been telling us for some time. For OpenJDK there is a clear continuity story."

Rabellino noted that Microsoft has watched the adoption of OpenJDK in the enterprise and noticed that it is much more significant with Java SE 7 than with Java SE 6, so the timing for this partnership was right.

"This is good for us because we are able to offer developers something we know they want and love," Rabellino said. "For us, a key part we will play is to make sure our Eclipse plug-in is even better and more integrated with developers' choice of Java VM. We pride ourselves in doing things right with the community."

Howard Green, Azul's vice president of marketing, told eWEEK Azul brings 10 years of heritage in the Java space to this partnership. "This is about bringing the masses of Java developers and giving them a runtime on the Azure platform. It's about giving tighter integration with the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) and to have OpenJDK as the default Java runtime on Azure."

George Gould, vice president of business development at Azul, noted that the company is one of the few organizations with an OpenJDK Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) "so we can make sure it's fully compatible."

Although Azul's been known primarily for its Java scalability technology, "this gives us a chance to have a broader conversation with our customers, and we can see an extension of our portfolio—to become relevant, not just to the high-end, mission-critical applications," Green said.

"This is a story of a small player with deep expertise in Java and a massive cloud infrastructure that is hungry for workloads," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "Microsoft is serious about running any and every workload and is striking partnerships in every direction to make sure its vast cloud infrastructure is put to work. Of course, this is the Microsoft subsidiary that focuses on open source, and Azul is an excellent partner that knows open source and can really bring its Java knowledge to Azure cloud enterprise clients."

In a mid-June report, Forrester Research stated: "Microsoft's strategy for Windows Azure is very strong for two reasons … creating a single platform spanning many clouds is achievable, valuable and a natural act for Microsoft. … Microsoft's openness to other platforms, languages, databases, development environments and tools is genuine and virtually assures Windows Azure's relevance as technology evolves."

With the support of Azul Systems and MS Open Tech, customers will be assured of a high-quality foundation for their Java implementations while leveraging the latest advancements in OpenJDK. The OpenJDK project is supported by a vibrant open-source community, and Azul Systems is committed to updating and maintaining its OpenJDK-based offering for Windows Azure, supporting current and future versions of both Java and Windows Server. Deploying Java applications on Windows Azure will be further simplified through the existing open-source MS Open Tech Windows Azure for Eclipse Plugin with Java.

The new Azul Systems offering will be available later this year.


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