Windows Azure Platform: November 21st Links

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman

Slalom Consultant Joel Forman specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

Well, it has been a long time since I last posted about some Azure news. In reality it has been a few months, but as time goes in “cloud-years”, it has been ages. Actually, come to think of it, “cloud years” and “dog years” have to be a pretty similar metric. So lets get caught up on Azure of the past “cloud year” (a.k.a. last few months).

Service Bus–Queues, Topics, and Subscriptions
While the first version of the Service Bus enable “relayed messaging” scenarios, the latest release introduces “brokered messaging”. Brokered messaging decouples sender from receiver by storing and persisting messages in the cloud. This enables a true pub/sub model where messaging can occur asynchronously, supporting offline capabilities. In addition, this release supports the ability to have subscribers create their own filtered subscriptions of a publishers messages, the “topic”. Read about the release here.

Windows Azure Storage–Analytics and Geo-Replication
This enhancement to Windows Azure Storage allows for the ability to track, analyze, and debug storage activity. For example, you can see all requests against a given BLOB or view summary metrics around number of requests or storage capacity. These new capabilities will give a lot more visibility into the traffic of applications using Windows Azure Storage. Read about storage analytics here. Furthermore, the platform has introduced geo-replication for Windows Azure blobs, tables, and queues. This means that your data will be backed up across data centers automatically by the platform. Read about geo-replication here.

SQL Azure–Q4 Release
SQL Azure announced an upcoming Q4 release, due out before the end of 2011.  The maximum database size will increase from 50 GB to 150 GB with this release.  SQL Azure Federations will also be fully available.  Read more about this release here.

SQL Azure Import/Export
Through recent updates to the Windows Azure portal, it has become very easy to import and export data to/from SQL Azure.  From within the portal, I am able to export a backup of my SQL Azure database (bacpac) to Windows Azure BLOB storage, with just a few clicks.  I can leverage some new Data-tier application framework libraries, available with SQL Server “Denali” CTP 3, to move data in and out of on-premise SQL Servers as well. These two combined capabilities make moving data in and out of the cloud very easy.  See some examples from CodePlex here.

Windows Azure Toolkit for Android, Toolkit Updates for iOS, and WP7
Windows Azure is very compelling as a service tier for mobile applications. It is great to see Microsoft investing in this area through the different Windows Azure toolkits available for the different platforms. Android was the latest to release, with the iOS and WP7 toolkit already being out there and seeing additional updates. There are a lot of great new NuGet packages for WP7 as well.

Windows Azure and Windows 8
At the BUILD conference in September, we got a sneak peak of how Azure will support metro-style applications in Windows 8.  It is easy to see how features like the Access Control Service, Storage, SQL Azure, and CDN will offer great out-of-the-box building blocks for metro applications. There are some great sessions available from the conference available for viewing.  Check out material from the conference here.

Windows Azure SDK–Version 1.6
In November, Microsoft released the latest version of the Windows Azure SDK, version 1.6.  You can read more about the features of the release here.  In my opinion, Microsoft continues to round out the SDK with nice add-ins. For example, this SDK makes publishing, both from Visual Studio and from a build machine, easier to manage. It’s also important to note that an updated to the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit accompanies every SDK release. This is the best place to get started with Windows Azure. Check out the release here.

Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK
Alongside the latest Azure SDK comes the Windows Azure HPC Scheduler SDK. This SDK works with the Windows Azure SDK to assist in building HPC applications that use large amounts of resources running in parallel. This SDK can be downloaded from here.

I will try to get back into the frequency of posting more detailed news and resources, hopefully on the “cloud quarter” rather than the “cloud year”. In the mean time, hope this gets you caught up.


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About Joel Forman
Joel Forman is a Solution Architect at Slalom Consulting and specializes in cloud computing and the Windows Azure Platform.

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