Microsoft & Azul to Build OpenJDK for Azure

Java runtime maker Azul Systems and the Microsoft Open Technologies group announced Wednesday that they will be collaborating on a Windows distribution build of the OpenJDK that will run on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

Azul will build, certify and distribute a compliant OpenJDK-based distribution that meets the Java Standard Edition specification for use with Windows Server environments on Azure, the companies said. The new distro will be freely distributed and licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) with the Classpath Exception, they said. OpenJDK is the official Java SE 7 reference implementation.

"We will be providing a fully open and unconstrained Java environment, with open choice of third-party stacks, for developers and essential applications deployed on Windows Azure," said Azul CEO Scott Sellers in a statement.

Azul is best known as the maker of Zing, a 100 percent Java-compatible JVM based on Oracle's HotSpot Virtual Machine, which is a core component of Java SE. Zing, which is open for coders for development, qualification and testing, is designed to eliminate Garbage Collection pauses, a long-standing challenge for Java developers, which enables Java app instances to scale dynamically and reliably. The company is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Java Community Process.

MS Open Tech, an independent subsidiary of the software giant focused on open source, celebrated its one-year anniversary in April. It was billed by the company as "one more way Microsoft will engage with the open source and standards communities." The Microsoft Interoperability Strategy team, which was managed at the time by Jean Paoli, became the group's nucleus. Paoli, who is one of the creators of the XML specification (with Tim Bray and Michael Sperberg-McQueen), became its president.

The group hit the ground running shortly after its launch with the Windows Azure Plugin for Eclipse with Java project, which provides support for Java developers who want to deploy their applications to Windows Azure.

The Azul/MS Open Tech partnership "is a story of a small player with deep expertise in Java and a massive cloud infrastructure that is hungry for workloads," IDC analyst Al Hilwa said in an email. "Microsoft is serious about running any and every workload and is striking partnerships in every direction to make sure its vast cloud infrastructure is put to work. Of course this is the Microsoft subsidiary that focuses on Open Source and Azul is an excellent partner that knows Open Source and can really bring its Java knowledge to Azure cloud enterprise clients."

"This initiative is about bringing Java to the masses in the cloud," Sellers said.

The two organizations made the announcement during the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].