Microsoft to add another preview build, more testers for Hadoop on Azure

Microsoft's coming second technology preview build of Hadoop on Azure may result in the product being released later than March 2012.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is adding a second, previously undisclosed Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build to its Hadoop on Azure roadmap, which could result in the service missing the company's own release target.

Late last year, Microsoft announced it was partnering with Hortonworks to develop versions of the Hadoop big-data framework for Windows Azure and Windows Server. Microsoft delivered, as promised, a CTP of Hadoop for Azure before the end of calendar 2011.

Last we heard, back in December 2011 -- directly from Microsoft's Alexander Stojanovic, General Manager, Project Founder and Technical Architect behind the project -- Microsoft's plan was to make Hadoop on Azure generally available in March 2012. An internal roadmap that Microsoft shared with some of the Hadoop on Azure testers pegged the general availability date specifically at March 30, 2012.

But on March 6, Microsoft officials said that the company would be rolling out a CTP2 for Hadoop on Azure some time in the first half of 2012. This CTP was not listed on the roadmap that Microsoft made available to its testers in December. Here's a slide from that roadmap document, dated December 2011, provided to me by one of my contacts:

(click on slide above to enlarge)

Microsoft officials said today they had nothing new to share as to when the Hadoop on Azure offering will be made generally available.

As one tester noted, an additional Hadoop on Azure CTP is a good thing, given many of the technologies on the Hadoop for Azure roadmap, such as the programming toolkit, aren't really there at present.

Microsoft execs, for their part, are insisting the company is on track with Hadoop on Azure, claiming that the only official guidance the company has provided as to Hadoop availability was back in October 2011, when officials announced the initial CTP dates. (For some reason officials aren't counting their own Channel 9 interview as "official" information.)

Microsoft plans to grow the number of testers of Hadoop on Azure from the current 400 to 2,000 with CTP2, officials said. The new CTP2 code will include support for Apache Mahout, a collection of machine-learning and data algorithms. Mahout support is listed on the roadmap slide above. When I asked Microsoft officials this week about the other items listed as being supported by Hadoop on Azure -- things like BigTop and the programming framework -- I received a "no comment."

Comment or no, Microsoft and Hortonworks are making progress toward delivering on the new distributions and on getting their changes back to the Hadoop community. At the recent Strata conference, the pair confirmed they're submitting to the Apache Foundation two new proposals for a new JavaScript framework for Apache Hadoop, along with an enhanced Hive ODBC driver that will enable Hadoop data to be analyzed using familiar tools such as Microsoft Excel and business intelligence (BI) clients such as PowerPivot for Excel.

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