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In a surprise show of support for a popular open-source technology, Microsoft says it will offer Hadoop-based distributions for Windows Server and its Windows Azure cloud computing platform — aiming to make it easier to analyze unstructured data, such as web content, along with more traditional business data stored in corporate databases.

“We are going to bring it to Windows,” said Doug Leland, SQL Server general manager, in an interview. “We are doing a distribution of Hadoop for Windows Server for on-premises solutions, and for Windows Azure for cloud. That is a distribution that Microsoft will deliver, and we will stand behind, and we will support, and we will integrate it tightly with the SQL Server data platform and our (business intelligence) platform.”

The Apache Hadoop data framework has its roots in Google research and has been heavily supported by Yahoo. Microsoft is working on the project with Hortonworks, a company founded by former members of the Yahoo Hadoop team to support Hadoop-based projects.

Microsoft says it will work closely with the Hadoop community and propose contributions of code back to the Apache Software Foundation based on the work it does. A technology preview of the Hadoop service for Azure will be released by the end of the year, and a preview of the service for Windows Server service will come out next year.

The company announced the news this morning at the PASS Summit, a SQL Server conference in Seattle.


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