Microsoft To Open Source ‘Orleans’ Cloud Framework

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Microsoft’s Extreme Computing Group is set to take Project Orleans open source following public previews earlier this year

azure-logoMicrosoft plans to open-source Project Orleans, a framework used for building large-scale distributed computing applications, including services in Microsoft’s cloud service Azure, some of which support the popular game Halo 4.

Orleans is designed to simplify building distributed high-scale applications, in part by eliminating the need to learn and apply complex concurrency or other scaling patterns, according to Microsoft. Development is handled by the Extreme Computing Group at Microsoft Research, using the .NET software framework.

Computation ‘grains’

The project introduces the concept of ‘grains’ as units of computation and data storage that can migrate between data centres. The project also includes its own runtime that can handle replication, persistence and consistency.

Details of the project first leaked in 2010, and Microsoft released a public preview of the technology at its Build 2014 conference in April, also distributing an update in September, and said it has fixed a number of bugs reported by users based on those releases.

“Now we decided to take the next logical step, and do the thing many of you have been asking for – to open-source ‘Orleans’,” said Microsoft’s Project Orleans team in a blog post. “We hope this will enable direct contribution by the community to the project.”

The source code should be ready by early next year, and is to be published under an MIT licence on the GitHub repository, according to the company.

Halo 4 services

Orleans enables Halo 4’s presence service and its statistics service, which were both discussed at the Build conference by Halo developer 343 Industries; other uses include social graphing and real-time analytics, according to Microsoft. Such services are designed to be able to interact with large numbers of devices, including smartphones and Internet of Things sensors.

Microsoft competes in cloud technologies with firms including Google, whose App Engine cloud platform runs on Google’s cloud infrastructure, and Amazon, whose Elastic Compute Cloud platform runs on the company’s Amazon Web Services.

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