So at last we've finished the Windows Azure hybrid applications guide, and it's out there ready for anyone interested in integrating cloud-hosted applications with on-premises services and partner applications. OK, so it's taken a little longer than originally planned but it is more comprehensive than originally envisaged, and incorporates a great deal of input from teams inside Microsoft, and advisors and reviewers outside the company.
One thing we discovered is that hybrid application integration (which I'm still resolutely referring to as "hybrigation") is a more complicated topic than we originally imagined. Not that it's hard to do - the tools and services in Windows Azure make the implementation really easy - but deciding how to approach it and which technology to use seem to be the key factors that contribute to a successful outcome.
We originally defined seven areas of concern for hybrigation, and concentrated on providing guidance on each one. These topic areas are:
So our first task was to investigate each of these areas and create good practice guidance around the scenarios and use cases for each one, then complement these with descriptions and detailed implementation information for the appropriate technologies that can satisfy the use cases in a variety of scenarios.
However, at the same time we wanted to provide a realistic example application that demonstrates as many of these technologies as possible (and without too cumbersome setup requirements). And it soon became clear that the decisions we made when designing and building the application would be of considerable use to readers, as well as the description we include of the code our development team created.
The result, therefore, is that our guide has two distinct sections. The first is a description of the fictional company and the application they (we) built, including the design decisions and implementation details. The second section is a series of use cases, and relevant high-level solutions, for each of the main areas of hybrigation concern. This section provides more information about where and how you might apply the Windows Azure integration technologies in your own applications.
And the nice thing is that there is a direct mapping between each of the chapters in the first section and the corresponding area of concern and appendix in the second section. It somehow feels like we really did get it right! Of course, its the readers and users of the guide that will provide the final confirmation (or otherwise) of this.
So now it's over to you: please tell us what you think of the guide, and which areas and sections you found the most or least beneficial. Did we hit the target? What makes it useful, and what should we have killed off during the final edit process? And, most important of all, what did we miss out that would have made it even better?
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