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Pivotal, Microsoft team up to deliver Azure Spring Cloud

Azure Spring Cloud, jointly developed by Microsoft and Pivotal, lets Spring developers bring apps to the cloud without concern for the underlying cloud infrastructure.

Microsoft and Pivotal have introduced Azure Spring Cloud, a service for Spring Boot apps that is designed to help developers build scalable microservices without the need to configure underlying infrastructure.

The companies launched the service this week as a private preview at the SpringOne Platform conference in Austin, Texas. Both companies will operate and support this jointly created managed service.

In short, the Azure Spring Cloud service can drastically simplify how Java and Spring developers can take their applications to the cloud without having to deal with cloud infrastructure, some analysts said.

"We still see a ton of Spring in the enterprise and good uptake on Spring Boot, so being able to easily run these workloads on Azure should do what the Azure folks aim for: Running the dials faster on Azure infrastructure," said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass.

The popular, open source Spring Boot framework lets developers quickly build Java apps and microservices. And Spring Cloud makes it easy to run Spring Boot applications in the cloud.

Azure Spring Cloud makes it easy to deploy and operate Spring-based, cloud-native apps at scale on Kubernetes, said John Montgomery, a Microsoft corporate vice president. Azure Spring Cloud is built on Microsoft's managed Kubernetes offering, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), he noted.

Divine Dube, a mobile application developer at Standard Bank Group in Johannesburg, said he wants to publish an Android app that uses Spring Boot as its backend.

"I am currently comparing DigitalOcean, Azure and AWS to host my Spring Boot REST service, and Azure Spring Cloud is a compelling option," Dube said. "But I also still have to compare it against using containers on DigitalOcean and compare that with the service that AWS provides."

In addition to Spring Cloud and AKS, Azure Spring Cloud includes kpack, a set of resource controllers for Kubernetes that automates the creation and updating of container images from source code, said Ryan Morgan, vice president of engineering for the application platform at Pivotal.

"We wanted to meet developers where they are," Morgan said, noting that Spring developers sought an "easy button" to deploy their Spring Boot applications into any cloud.

Azure Spring Cloud also features elements of the Pivotal Build Service, which simplifies code-to-container workflows over the life of an application, Morgan added. And the service supports development with the popular Java IDEs, such as IDEA IntelliJ, Eclipse and Visual Studio Code.

Pivotal and Microsoft will also automatically update the service with patches and updates.

Microsoft's heightened support for Java comes as more of its enterprise customers have expressed a desire to run their Java workloads on Azure, Microsoft's Montgomery said. Indeed, it was at last year's SpringOne Platform conference that Microsoft and Pivotal heard requests from developers for a fully managed service supporting Spring on Azure. Pivotal and Microsoft began working together on Azure Spring Cloud soon thereafter, he said.

Microsoft has seen a lot of Java momentum of late. As such, the company continues to take steps to enable Java workloads, Forrester's Hammond said.

"Given the amount of Linux workloads running on Azure relative to Windows workloads, I'd expect we'll see a similar shift take place over time higher up in the application stack," Hammond said.

It's good for Spring developers and smart on Microsoft's part.
Rod Johnsoncreator of Spring and CEO of Atomist

Rod Johnson, the creator of Spring and CEO of DevOps toolmaker Atomist, Inc. in San Francisco, said he believes Azure Spring Cloud is a win-win for both companies and Java developers.

"It's good for Spring developers and smart on Microsoft's part," he said. "Spring has always enabled portability between deployment environments. Now important deployment environments step up to be especially welcoming to Spring developers -- a sign that Spring's importance continues to increase. This should do a lot to help them attract Java workloads."

In addition to delivering Azure Spring Cloud and its recent acquisition of jClarity, Microsoft has also initiated a core Java team that focuses on some of the company's internal Java services, which include HD Insight and Yammer.

"That core Java team's primary responsibility right now is to help our internal engineering teams operate with the greatest efficiency they possibly can, and that is why the jQuery acquisition made a lot of sense, because their expertise is in optimizing Java applications," Montgomery said.

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