Microsoft gains a Halo with ‘Project Orleans’ and .NET

In an article about IoT-framework 'AllJoyn' yesterday, we discussed and spoke to the team behind Microsoft's renewed push into supporting open technologies. That trend continues today with the announcement that Microsoft will be making the cloud computing framework behind Halo 4, 'Project Orleans', open-source for all developers to use in early 2015.

Unlike Erlang and Akka, Project Orleans is designed to remove a lot of the actor management

The framework is built on .NET and was created to allow coders to develop cloud-based services which can scale to meet huge demands such as those of multiplayer video games. It was made available back in April 2014 in preview-form but will soon be made open-source for all developers to create apps more-efficiently than existing frameworks...

Erlang and Akka, like Project Orleans, are frameworks which take advantage of the 'Actor Model' whereby collections of software objects are named as "actors" and can communicate with one another differently each time they are asked a request. Unlike Erlang and Akka, Project Orleans is designed to remove a lot of the actor management such as failure handling and subsequent recovery when an actor goes offline.

From the Microsoft blog post:

First, an Orleans actor always exists, virtually. It cannot be explicitly created or destroyed. Its existence transcends the lifetime of any of its in-memory instantiations, and thus transcends the lifetime of any particular server. Second, Orleans actors are automatically instantiated: if there is no in-memory instance of an actor, a message sent to the actor causes a new instance to be created on an available server. An unused actor instance is automatically reclaimed as part of runtime resource management.

As mentioned earlier, the open-sourcing of Project Orleans continues a trend at Microsoft under the new supervision of CEO Satya Nadella. Last month we reported Microsoft took the historic step of making the entire .NET framework open-source so developers can create applications using it which can run on Linux and/or Mac.

For an open-source .NET to succeed, Microsoft is working with the expertise of the community behind the Mono project (which was created to make .NET cross-platform.) It's exciting to see a more-humble Microsoft who is willing to work with the open-source community and realise developers might not want to create applications solely for Windows...

Will you try Project Orleans and/or the new open-source .NET? Let us know in the comments.


If you are interested in IoT, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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