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What is Microsoft doing to add Java support to Azure?

I was curious what Microsoft's response would be to Google's recent announcement that is allowing developers writing for the Google App Engine cloud platform to develop in Java. The answer? Not much that company officials haven't said before.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

I was curious what Microsoft's response would be to Google's recent announcement that is allowing developers writing for the Google App Engine cloud platform to develop in Java. The answer? Not much that company officials haven't said before.

Granted, it took Google a year from the time it announced plans to support Java to actually deliver on its promises. But Microsoft still isn't offering up firm Java-for-the-cloud timetables or deliverable commitments at this point. (Amazon also has added new tools aimed at Java developers hosting apps in the Amazon EC2 cloud infrastructure.)

Microsoft officials have said since the company launched its Azure cloud platform in October 2008 that the ultimate plan was to allow developers to use a wide variety of languages to write to Microsoft's cloud. The company reemphasized that message via its commitment to support FastCGI.

For the time being, however, Microsoft is supporting Java with Azure only so far as Azure services can interoperate with other Java-based cloud services. Or, as a spokesperson phrased it:

"The Azure Services Platform is open, standards-based, and interoperable. Azure services use web standards such as REST and SOAP to interoperate with other platforms and services. Applications and services written in Java can interoperate and consume Azure services based on this, open and standards-based approach to cloud computing. Currently, Windows Azure's FastCGI feature enables PHP and other 3rd party programming languages to run on its compute infrastructure. The Windows Azure vision is to support all languages that can run on Windows, including Java in the future."

At Mix '09, company officials highlighted plans for a Java Software Development Kit (SDK) for .Net Services, which is being co-developed by Microsoft and Schakra Inc. (Microsoft is providing the funding, architectural and technical guidance and project coordination; Schakra is doing the development and end-to-end testing.)

Update (April 15): A Microsoft spokesperson said Microsoft is not co-developing the SDK, despite the way its involvement is spelled out on the JDotNetServices.com site. The spokesperson sent me the following statement:

"We are aware that the Schakra site lists out some financials around the development of Jdotnetservices, however it is MS corp policy to not disclose financials regarding the details of partnership agreements. That said, we can't confirm or deny any comments on Schakra's site regarding financial details.

"As your post currently reads, we can confirm that Microsoft is not currently building a Java SDK for .NET Services, rather Schakra is working on developing the SDK which is possible due to Azure's interop platform."

On April 10, the Java SDK for .Net Services hit Milestone 2, specifically a new test build that is compatible with the March 2009 .Net Services Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build. A Summer 2009 Community Technology Preview for the Java SDK is up next, according to the JDotNetServices.com site for the project. The test builds of the SDK, available under a BSD license, are downloadable from the SourceForge site.

Does Microsoft's commitment to Java interoperability go far enough? Or are there early Azure adopters (or wannabe adopters) out there champing at the bit to write applications in Java that will be hostable directly in Microsoft's Azure cloud?

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