Microsoft has been touting for a while the ability for developers to use a variety of tools, like Java, PHP, Ruby and Eclipse, when developing applications for Windows Azure. But the company is going to step up its Java support for Azure in the coming weeks and months, elevating Java to a "first-class citizen" in the Microsoft cloud realm.
The reasons Microsoft is interested in doing this aren't hard to figure. There are lots of Java developers out there whom Microsoft would be excluding from its potential cloud customer base if it didn't support anything beyond .Net. And Microsoft cloud competitors like VMware, Amazon and Google all have built Java support into their respective platforms.
Exactly how Microsoft intends to up its Java support is fairly vague, beyond promises from executives at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference this week. Microsoft execs told eWEEK that Microsoft will be focusing on improving Java performance, Eclipse tooling and client libraries for Windows Azure. This improved Java enablement will be available to customers in 2011, the Softies said. So far it's murky as to which Java variants Microsoft will be targeting beyond "the ones customers want us to do," as Microsoft execs said this week.
"Our ultimate goal is to make Java as first-class as .Net on Windows Azure," said Senior Vice President of Microsoft's Server and Cloud Division Amitabh Srivastava.
In the nearer term, Microsoft will be continuing to flesh out the existing Java interoperability support that the company already is delivering via new versions of Java software-development kits (SDKs) for Azure.
On October 29, Microsoft and Soyatec -- its development partner for several of these SDKs -- unveiled new Version 2 releases of the Windows Azure SDK for Java and Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse. New in the v2 of the Azure SDK for Java is support for new features that Microsoft delivered in its Windows Azure SDK 1.2, which shipped in June of this year. Among those new features are refactoring support, support for Windows Azure Drive, Windows Azure Service Management and Blob snapshot support. New in the v2 of the Azure Tools for Eclipse is support for the same Windows Azure SDK 1.2 released in June. Among the new specific new fetures are things like the ability to host PHP applications on HTTP endpoints using SSL certificates, support for Windows Azure diagnostics, and the ability to run MySQL databases on Windows Azure.