One of Liferay's key strengths has always been its flexibility. This stems from Liferay starting out as a consultant-based, services-oriented company. Every customer had different requirements that were never envisioned as part of the product. Each time a new requirement was met, facilities were developed to ensure that other requirements in that same area could be met in the future. This result can be seen both in the underlying frameworks included in the software, and in the myriad sites built on Liferay.
Deployment requirements are no different, and Liferay is built to work with virtually any mainstream operating system, database, application server, front-end framework, and other ancillary services required of a modern web platform. However, fitting together and maintaining all of those components can be tricky at times, and so to continue the tradition of flexibility, Liferay has partnered with a number of hosting providers to make it easy to deploy and maintain Liferay on premises and in the cloud, using the infrastructure that makes the most sense for your needs.
One of the benefits to us as community members is that our hosting partners get to know Liferay rather well, when designing cloud deployment models around it. They've even discovered bugs and suggested improvements for Liferay itself! They also get to know cloud infrastucture providers, which brings me to the point of this post: to let you all know that BitNami, a Liferay Hosting Partner, is now producing and maintaining Liferay images for use on Microsoft's Azure cloud, through their alliance with Microsoft Open Technologies. With Microsoft's VM Depot ("a community-driven catalog of open source virtual machine images for Windows Azure", as Gianugo puts it), you can launch and maintain Liferay instances directly on Azure, and combine it with many other available apps.
It's pretty cool for a number of reasons:
- The BitNami Liferay stack includes a pre-configured and pre-wired Liferay stack including Ubuntu, Apache Tomcat, MySQL, and more, directly deployable onto Windows Azure.
- Microsoft's VM Depot also includes a bunch of other open technologies that could be combined with Liferay, through your ability to remix applications and publish the result as a new image on the depot (Microsoft embracing Open Source? No way!).
- VM Depot images can later be used by production deployments on the public Azure cloud, with little or no effort (but at that point presumably one would have to pay for that). So the VM Depot is a great proving ground for Liferay and other open source.
- It's free! As in beer!
I am particularly excited to see BitNami taking the initiative to seed the depot with Liferay and other open source. BitNami started with Liferay 4.3.0 over 5 years ago, and has been a champion of open source even longer. Hopefully we can all benefit from this new addition to the Liferay deployment ecosystem. To get started, check out the BitNami Liferay Azure stack!