Microsoft is getting its Azure ducks before it removes the beta tag from its cloud service in mid-November.
Update: The Azure team posted a bit of a roadmap update to their blog on October 29. The team noted that the Azure preview will remain open through the end of 2009. Microsoft plans to start charging for Azure usage/hosting as of February 1, 2010.
On October 28, the company announced plans for more development tools aimed at programmers who want to use PHP, Java and the Eclipse IDE to create and modify Web applications for Azure.
At the Eclipse Summit Europe, Microsoft announced a plug-in called the Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse which is targeted at PHP developers. The plug-in bundles together the already-announced Azure software-development kit (SDK) for PHP into the Eclipse PHP project.Soyatec is developing the new toolset, with funding and guidance from Microsoft.
The plug-in includes a Window Azure storage explorer so developers can browse data in Windows Azure tables, blobs or queues, according to Microsoft. A Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse is available for download now. The final "release to Web" of the toolkit is slated for November.
Microsoft also took the wraps off a new Windows Azure SDK for Java on Wednesday. The SDK is being developed by Soyatec in conjunction with Microsoft. A CTP of the Soyatec SDK for Java is available for download; the final release-to-Web version is slated for November.
(Microsoft and another partner, Schakra, also are developing a Java SDK for Azure. This original SDK is targeting Azure .Net Services, while the new toolkit from Soyatek is targeting Windows Azure, the OS layer of Azure, which was codenamed Red Dog. Microsoft recently decided to pull workflow services out of the Azure .Net Services layer, so as to wait for the final .Net 4 release, slated for late March. A new CTP of the Schakra Java SDK is slated for November. There's no word on when the final release will be done.)
In other Eclipse-related news, Microsoft and solution provider Tasktop Technologies announced they will be developing updates to the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) to take advantage of new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Tasktop will contribute enhancements to the Eclipse IDE that will be available under the Eclipse Public License for early access the first quarter of 2010; general release is slated to happen as part of the Eclipse Helios release in June 2010. Microsoft is funding the project.
While Microsoft continues to put more of its Azure pieces in place prior to its PDC launch, its foremost competitor, Amazon.com, is continuing to roll out more elements of its own cloud computing environment that are squarely targeted at Microsoft. Earlier this week, Amazon announced the Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) beta. As cloud-computing maven Roger Jennings explained in a blog post, Amazon is now delivering pre-configured MySQL 5.1 instances with up to 68 GB of memory and 26 ECUs (8 virtual cores with 3.25 ECUs each) servicing up to 1 TB of data storage