Node-inspired development environments and cloud platforms are rapidly remaking the Web application stackFollow @peterwayner
The Azure toolkit comes with a large collection of tools and so-called cmdlets that let you debug your server.js file on your own machine. When it's ready, you push it right into the cloud. Microsoft's tools for your machine are largely driven by the command line. You type long commands like
Join-AzureNodeRoleToMongoRole, and all local configuration issues are handled for you. You don't need to remember the details. I'm sure Microsoft is working on a push-button application. Soon you won't even need to type all of the commands.
Azure's Node tools include most of the latest Node goodies like the connection with MongoDB, one of the more popular NoSQL databases. You can install these packages with NPM, then accelerate the development by letting Microsoft's cmdlets massage the XML in the configuration files.
The integration is still fairly preliminary. While all of the Node packages are available through NPM, you'll have to make some connections by hand to important options like SQL Server. Some people use the REST interface to SQL Server that Microsoft makes available. Although MongoDB is a nice option, Azure offers a number of reporting tools that are integrated directly with SQL Server.
I found that the Azure tools and documentation were quite nice but far from perfect. Microsoft brings a polish that's rare in the world of experiment where Node.js began. It clearly wants to capture Node users with the Azure cloud. Still, I found strange glitches that I couldn't get around. The local emulator would keep popping up alert windows at times, and they made it hard to debug.
Microsoft's investment in Azure is already substantial, and the decision to include Node shows that the tool is drawing plenty of interest in the corporate world. I think the technology holds a great deal of promise in the world of shared virtual servers because it's designed to minimize how much RAM is consumed, a premium in this realm. It would be fascinating to see a thorough study on whether Node is dramatically cheaper for Azure owners based on the consumption of resources.
In theory, you should be able to do more with Azure's smaller servers when running Node.js. The test versions start off using "extra small" instances, which are only 4 cents per minute. The longer you can hold off consuming larger machines, the cheaper your jobs become.
Node.js tools: Nodejitsu
The cloud services from Nodejitsu aren't available for users yet because they're still in private beta. However, Nodejitsu is already releasing its tools under a generous open source license, so it's possible to poke around and see what the company is building.
The major tools simplify the process of creating and deploying Node applications to the cloud. The core piece is Jitsu, a command-line tool for juggling Node applications that's similar to Microsoft's Azure tools. You type one command and a new application is created. Type another command and the application starts up for testing. Type yet another and the application will be pushed to the Nodejitsu cloud (coming soon).
If you want to build your own cloud, you can use Haibu, a local application server that allows Node applications to capture as much of the CPU as they might need. Haibu will wrap your application with a layer of code called a "carapace" and turn them into "drones" -- Nodejitsu's term for the copies floating around the cloud.
Nodejitsu is pushing the Node community forward with these tools, and the open source license makes them attractive for companies that want to experiment without being locked into the Nodejitsu cloud.