Microsoft, Azul Bring OpenJDK to Windows Azure With 'Zulu'

Microsoft Open Technologies and Azul Systems announced the availability of Zulu, an implementation of OpenJDK for Windows Server on Windows Azure.

Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech) and Azul Systems announced the availability of Zulu for Windows Azure, Azul's new build of the community-driven open source Java implementation, known as OpenJDK, for Windows Server on the Windows Azure platform.

Announced at the JavaOne 2013 conference in San Francisco on Sept. 25, the Zulu technology preview is available immediately for free download and use under the terms of the GPLv2 open-source license.

Zulu is a Java Development Kit (JDK) built and distributed by Azul Systems and is a compliant implementation of the Java Platform Standard Edition (Java SE) 7 specification. Zulu has been verified by passing all tests in the Java SE 7 version of the OpenJDK Community TCK (Technology Compatibility Kit).

Microsoft and Azul initially announced plans to deliver OpenJDK on Windows Azure at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in July. At the show, 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 their partnership on a Windows distribution build of the OpenJDK community-driven open-source Java implementation for Windows Server on the Windows Azure platform.

The companies promised that a preview or limited beta version of the technology would be available in the fall with general availability by the end of the year.

"We're making good on the promise we made in July," Gianugo Rabellino, senior director of open-source communities at MS Open Tech, told eWEEK. "We see a lot of customer demand and traction for this."

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 from the community in OpenJDK, the companies said.

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 Plugin for Eclipse with Java.

"We're also announcing the integration of our Eclipse tooling," Rabellino said. "The job of the Eclipse plug-in is to allow developers to build platform-as-a-service applications on our platform. The tooling was important because it's the gateway for developers to start developing apps."

Azul established a dedicated team to build and distribute Zulu, George Gould, Azul Systems' vice president of marketing and business development, told eWEEK. "We had conversations with Microsoft about road maps and making sure things were compliant, but we did all the work ourselves," he said.

Gould said Zulu opens up a new area of focus for Azul, which the company hopes will prove fruitful. "We've been building out and shipping JVMs [Java Virtual Machines] for the better part of 10 years and our flagship product, Zing, was built for high-performance Linux servers," he said. "Zulu is really about bringing OpenJDK and choice of VMs to Windows developers."

Moreover, all patches and bug fixes will be contributed back to the OpenJDK community by Azul, Gould said.

"Java developers have many development and deployment choices for their applications, and today MS Open Tech and Azul made it easier for Java developers to build and run modern applications in Microsoft's open cloud platform," Jean Paoli, president of MS Open Tech, said in a statement.

Azul officials also said there will be independent software vendor (ISV) favorable binary licensing for easy embedding with third-party applications.

"We are looking forward to serving the global Java community with this important new offering for the Azure cloud," Scott Sellers, president and CEO of Azul Systems, said in a statement.

Zulu is available for download here. Zulu Community Forums are listed on the Stack Overflow Website under the tags "azure zulu" and "azul zulu."

The Zulu news complements other interoperability news for Microsoft made at the Oracle OpenWorld 2013 conference, where Oracle and Microsoft took a next step in the cloud partnership they announced earlier this year, where Oracle workloads will run on Microsoft clouds.