Microsoft sails past Oracle in bringing Java SE to the cloud

Microsoft's Windows Azure now offers a certified version of the Java OpenSDK as a cloud service

While Oracle CEO Larry Ellison focuses his attention on the America's Cup sailing race, Oracle is rushing to keep up in another race, the one to get its Java SE (Standard Edition) in the cloud.

While Oracle is holding its annual OpenWorld user conference, Microsoft announced that Oracle's Java SE can be run on Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud service, using a newly certified implementation of the OpenJDK called Zulu, which was developed by Azul systems.

Azul, which is an Oracle Community Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) licensee, completed the OpenJDK build for Azure, work on which was first announced in July, on behalf of Microsoft Open Technologies.

On Tuesday, Oracle launched the Oracle Java Cloud Service, which also provides Java SE as cloud service. Users of the service must access Java through a copy of the Oracle WebLogic application server.

Using the Zulu OpenJDK build on Azure, users are free to deploy any Java application server of their choice, not just Oracle's WebLogic, pointed out Gianugo Rabellino, Microsoft's senior director of open source communities. While the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) can execute Java code, an application server handles all the external intricacies of running a Java program in a full-scale production setting.

"Zulu is the most basic component to build your Java applications. Add your application server of your choice and you have a full-stack enterprise edition," Rabellino said. Out of the box, Zulu works with the Apache Tomcat and Jetty Java servlet containers, as well as Red Hat's JBoss or Oracle's Glassfish application servers. Users are also free to use any Java EE (enterprise edition) application server.

Zulu has passed all the tests -- over 70,000 -- that Oracle has set in verifying that a JDK (Java Development Kit) implementation meets Java Standard Edition 7 specifications.

Oracle still has time to catch up with Microsoft, should it choose to do so. Zulu is now only available as a technology preview and still must be uploaded into Azure, using an Eclipse plug-in and a copy of Zulu downloaded from from Azul.

Zulu is available under a GPLv2 open source license. No word has been given on when Zulu will be ready for full production use.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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