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Ruby on Rails becomes latest open-source offering to run on Microsoft's Azure cloud

For a while now, Microsoft has been courting open-source software makers to convince them of the wisdom of offering their wares on Windows. So it's not too surprising that many of those same apps also are being moved to the Windows Azure cloud platform. The Ruby on Rails framework is the latest to get the Azure treatment.
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Written by Mary Jo Foley, Contributor on

For a while now, Microsoft has been courting open-source software makers to convince them of the wisdom of offering their wares on Windows. So it's not too surprising that many of those same apps also are being moved to the Windows Azure cloud platform.

At the end of November, Microsoft architect Simon Davies blogged that he had gotten the open-source Ruby on Rails framework to run on Windows Azure. By using a combination of new functionality in the November Windows Azure software development kit (SDK), plus some new Solution Accelerator technology, Davies said he managed to get Ruby on Rails to run. (The fruits of Davies' labors are available at  http://rubyonrails.cloudapp.net/.)

Davies blogged:

"One of these (new November SDK) features enables Worker Roles to receive network traffic from  both external and internal endpoints using HTTP, HTTPS and TCP. This new feature enables many new scenarios, one of then is the ability to run existing applications that receive traffic over sockets in Windows Azure."

There are a bunch of these Azure Solution Accelerators available for download from the Windows Azure Platform Web site. There are also new SDKs for Microsoft's recently unveiled AppFabric middleware for Java, Ruby and PHP developers, as well, availble for download.

Davies noted that Microsoft has demonstrated a number of open-source apps, including MySQL, Mediawiki, Memcached and Tomcat, can run on Windows Azure. Microsoft has been working on delivering PHP and Eclipse tools for Windows Azure.

Recently, CNet open-source blogger Matt Asay expressed some concern that Microsoft's "super-friendly, super-dangerous bear hug" of open-source applications -- especially in the cloud realm -- could do open-source more harm than good.

Some open-source vendors -- SugarCRM comes to mind -- have developed their own Azure ports of their wares. But in other cases, Microsoft is the instigator, either moving the open-source applications and tools onto Azure or working with a third-party to do so.

I don't see the same kind of potential danger that Asay does in this scenario, since what really matters is whether developers and customers are interested in using what's hosted on Azure, rather than who "put" the apps in the cloud. Do you agree?

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