Drupal Gardens, the planned cloud version of the open source Drupal content management system, went into a public beta stage Thursday, thus making it widely available for tryouts , said Drupal founder Dries Buytaert.

The technology previously had been available through a controlled, private beta program, said Buytaert, founder and CTO of Acquia, in an interview at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland. "As of today, everybody can go to our website, drupalgarden.com," to get the beta release, he said.

The long term vision for Drupal Gardens calls for setting up a marketplace where developers can offer application templates for the CMS. "It's a little bit like an app store," said Buytaert.

Drupal 7, the next major version of the CMS, still is in development, with developers still needing to fix about 44 critical bugs before it can be released, Buytaert said. A beta version of Drupal 7 is anticipated for August, with the general release eyed for the third quarter of this year. Drupal 7 will add support for the Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases, said Buytaert. Support of these databases should make it easier for large organisations to adopt Drupal, he said.

Also at OSCON, a Microsoft official cited Microsoft's efforts with cloud computing via its Windows Azure platform. But there are no plans to offer the technology via open source, said Jean Paoli, general manager of interoperability strategy at Microsoft. "We're not going to be open sourcing Azure," said Paoli in an interview.

Azure, he said, will work with open source technologies, such as Java and PHP. Also, developers using Eclipse open source tooling can build applications for Azure, he said.

During a keynote presentation, Paoli cited Microsoft's launch Thursday of a Web site devoted to conversation about cloud interoperability, at www.microsoft.com/cloud/interop. He cited four key interoperability elements of a cloud platform: data portability, standards, ease of migration and deployment and developer choice.

Thursday's brief series of keynote presentations at OSCON also featured David Recordon, senior open programs manager at Facebook, who suggested possible additions to the popular LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP/Perl/Python) technology stack. Additions could be considered for caching and data analysis, he said, noting Facebook's extensive network and its use of technologies, such as the Hadoop distributed computing platform. Facebook has seen its data storage level increase by about 70 times in the past two years, Recordon said.