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Easier Deployment of Java Apps to Windows Azure

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Microsoft has made available a kit for streamlining the process of deploying Java applications to Windows Azure.

Until now, to run a Java application on Windows Azure, the deployed package needed to contain configuration information for a Worker Role, which required updating the service definition file, setting some attributes in the service configuration file and creating a .NET class to handle the Role’s lifecycle. A MSDN webpage gives detailed explanation on how to deploy a Java application on Azure. The process is not a point-and-click one, requiring the creation of a C# class in Visual Studio, a .NET library for handling Zip files, and editing Azure service configuration information.

Microsoft has made the job of deploying Java apps easier by releasing the Windows Azure Starter Kit for Java, a zip file containing a template project and an Ant extension. The kit can be used as a stand alone tool from the command line, the main element being the Ant build file that creates all the necessary files (example), or it can be used from Eclipse which invokes the Ant file when the project is built (example).

By editing a configuration file, the developer can choose to deploy the application locally for testing purposes, or in the cloud. When the later option is selected, the kit generates the files .cspkg and .cscfg needed when deploying to Windows Azure.

The Starter Kit is a CTP, Microsoft being interested in getting “feedback from Java developers, and to nail down the correct experience for Java developers, particularly to make sure that configuring, packaging and deploying to Windows Azure integrates well with common practices.” The kit has been released under the Apache 2.0 license.

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