Dev Pulse

Sounding the pulse of the developer and development manager

February, 2011

Posts
  • Dev Pulse

    Ramp Up on Windows Azure with MSDN Benefits

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    How do we, developers, learn cool new things? Do we read some materials, take some notes, and then we’re good to go? Maybe take a class or two and that’s it? No. We read, maybe take some classes, but most importantly, we learn by building apps! With on-premise solutions, that’s relatively easy. Build out a virtual machine, install the required software, and off we go.  How do we do that with Cloud solutions? Just as easy. You use this great 4 letter acronym – MSDN.

    With the benefits that come with your MSDN Professional, Ultimate, or BizSpark subscriptions, you can do a whole lot with Windows Azure for free.  Let’s look at the benefits chart:

    image_thumb[2]

    Let’s do some comparisons:

    • 750 compute hours per month allows you to run a simple ASP.NET web application on a single small instance continuously for an entire month and have some hours left over.  Let’s do the math – 24 hours a day x 31 days = 744 hours per month.  You’ll even have 6 left over to experiment with other roles.
    • 7GB in and 14 GB out per month is the equivalent of uploading 1400 mp3 files and downloading 2800 mp3 files, assuming that the files are approximately 5MB each.  That should be more than plenty for most application testing scenarios.
    • Three 1GB SQL Azure databases provide enough relational storage for approximately 500,000 pages of text (size estimate from here).  This should also be plenty of storage for a test environment.
    • Looking at the Windows Azure transactions - 1,000,000 transactions per month would mean you could perform a transaction every 2.5 seconds, non-stop, all month long.

    Good stuff, right?

    So what’s next? 5 easy steps to get you started:

    1. Activate your MSDN Windows Azure benefits Start here. Remember, these are per month benefits. They reset every month so that you can deploy and test your applications without worrying about the having to paying for the environment.
    2. Setup your development environment.  If you’re looking at building a Virtual Machine, check out Windows Azure MVP Cory Fowler’s (@SyntaxC4) The Ultimate Windows Azure Development VM.  I highly recommend downloading and installing GreyBox.
    3. Download the latest Windows Azure Platform Training Course.  Tune into the Canadian Developer Connection every month or so – we’ll let you know when there is a new update.
    4. Check Up In The (Windows Azure) Cloud every Monday to see what’s new and check out different things to try.
    5. Post questions or your interesting finds at the Cloud Development LinkedIn group.

    Don’t wait. Activate your benefits and start building Cloud applications today.

    Don’t have MSDN but want to learn about Windows Azure? Have an app that you’d like to test with Windows Azure? Not a problem! Send me an email (jonathan.rozenblit@microsoft.com) or a DM on Twitter (@jrozenblit) and I’ll you setup with a trial subscription where you will get the same benefits for 30 days.

    With all these great benefits and programmes, all you need to do is find the time to use them! As much as I’d love to, that’s one area where I wouldn’t be able to help.

    This post also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

  • Dev Pulse

    Up In the (Windows Azure) Cloud: February 13 - 19

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    Up-In-The-Windows-Azure-Cloud_thumb2

    Here’s what was up in the Windows Azure Cloud last week (February 13 – February 19):

    New This Week

    Things To Try

    Windows and SQL Azure Development

    • If you’re building and deploying your Cloud application in Visual Studio, enabling IntelliTrace is easy.  But there may be times when you’re deploying your app outside of Visual Studio.  In IntelliTrace for Azure Without Visual Studio, Grant Holiday shows how to make a couple of manual tweaks to enable IntelliTrace.
    • With Windows Azure SDK 1.3, it’s now possible to run web roles with Full IIS.  This post, by the Windows Azure Storage Team, discusses coding patterns for Windows Azure Drive APIs recommended for use with full IIS.
    • BI is one of the most important business priorities for companies large and small.  Microsoft’s on-premise BI stack includes SQL Server Database Server, Reporting Services, Integration Services, and Analysis Services.  SQL Azure Reporting is the first to move to the Cloud.  In a nutshell, here are 7 things you need to know about SQL Azure Reporting Services.

    General Windows and SQL Azure

    • Hear from Peter Doulas, Director, Servers and Tools Division of Microsoft Canada on how moving to the Cloud will be more of an evolution for companies, rather than a revolution – Plugging in the Cloud.
    • Mohammad Akif, Microsoft Canada’s National Security and Privacy Lead dives deep on security within Windows Azure on Cloud Security 101.
    • If you’re looking for more on security, check out the Windows Azure Security Overview and the Security Best Practices for Developing Windows Azure Applications whitepapers.
    • Get the scoop on Microsoft IT’s road to Windows Azure in this two part interview with Mike Olsson, Senior Director in Microsoft IT.  In part 1, Steve and Mike discuss how Microsoft IT went “all in”, what they learned along the way, and how you should decide which applications to migrate. In part 2, Mike talks about developer challenges, writing scalable applications, security, and how to get started with Windows Azure.

    Find something interesting on Windows Azure this week? Share via comments below or let’s discuss on LinkedIn.

    This post also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

  • Dev Pulse

    Up In The (Windows Azure) Cloud

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    Up In The Windows Azure Cloud

    Here’s what was up in the Windows Azure Cloud last week (February 6 – February 12):

    New This Week

    Things To Try

    Windows and SQL Azure Development

    General Windows and SQL Azure

    Find something interesting on Windows Azure this week? Share via comments below or let’s discuss on LinkedIn.

    This post also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

  • Dev Pulse

    Making Developing Windows Azure Applications Easier–One Resource At A Time

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    image_thumb[6]

    Picture this – it’s time to sit down and start architecting your new application.  You’re going to use the latest and the greatest – you’re going to go Cloud.  Cloud – as in Windows Azure – just to make sure!  What’s the first thing you think of? Design Patterns, of course. 

    To start, you’ll need patterns for:

    Compute Storage
    Communications Security
    Network Relational Data

    That’s where Windows Azure MVP David Pallmann’s Azure Design Patterns site comes in handy – it covers them all (and it’s made with Silverlight).  Why scour the abyss of information online when you can go to one place and see it all, neatly organized in a way that’s easy to navigate? Make sure you bookmark it and refer back to it whenever you sit down to architect an application.

    There are also two posts on David’s blog that I think you should read (in the following order):

    • Taking a Fresh Look at Windows Azure does a great job of walking you though the entire platform, including all of the additions that were made with version 1.3.
    • Now that you understand all of the pieces, it’s time to make some architectural decisions.  Picking a Lane in Cloud Computing explores those decisions from the very first, SaaS, IaaS, or PaaS, to one of the last, Service Access (depending on your application, there may be more architectural decisions to make in addition to these ones).

    As you start using design patterns for cloud computing and Windows Azure, don’t forget to share your experience with us of what works and what doesn’t.

    That’s it for now. Go! Explore! Then share!

    This post also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

  • Dev Pulse

    Know If You’ve Got Your Cloud On

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    If you’re like me and are actively doing work with Windows Azure, whether you’re learning how to develop Cloud-based applications, actually building an application, or just demoing Windows Azure capabilities to various audiences, you probably have one or more deployments configured in the Windows Azure Developer Portal. You start up your deployment, do your thing, and then stop your deployment so don’t get billed when you’re not actively working.  Right?

    If you remember to stop your deployment every time, consider yourself a rare breed! For the rest of us who don’t always remember to do it right away and then realize in the middle of the night that we forgot, there is hope!

    imageDuring my most resent perusal of CodePlex, I came across a nifty little utility written by Windows Azure MVP Michael Wood (@mikewo) called GreyBox.  GreyBox is an application that sits in your system tray and visually indicates to you whether you have any deployments running in your Windows Azure subscription.

    As Michael describes in his blog post, if the box is blue, you have one or more deployments running (a.k.a. consuming compute hours). If your deployments have all been stopped, the box is grey. Simple! Now if that wasn’t useful enough, GreyBox will also alert you, on intervals that you define in the configuration, that you have deployments running. Commit this to memory - “If the cube is grey, you’re OK. If the cube is blue, a bill is due”.  Thanks for that nice and simple summary, Brian Prince.

    Give GreyBox a try and hopefully, it will remind you, like it reminds me, that your deployments are still running - before you get into bed! 

    Have you had an interesting or funny experience with remembering that you forget to turn off your deployments? Share your stories by commenting below.  

    This article is also posted on Canadian Developer Connection

  • Dev Pulse

    Windows Azure Experience Lab for ISV Developers – February 7

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    Windows Azure Experience LabISV developers, come experience Windows Azure in a lab experience like no other! Join your fellow developers and explore how you can leverage your existing .NET development expertise to develop applications and services for the Cloud

    Two tracks have been designed to ensure that you get the information that is most relevant to you:

    Business Value Track Recommended for product managers, strategic planners, CTOs, architects and other decision making leaders who evaluate strategic directions for their organization and their customers
    Azure Development Track Recommended for Solution and Infrastructure Architects, Lead Developers and other technologies who evaluate technologies as part of their solution offerings

    You’ll probably be interested in the Development Track, so I’ve included the agenda below:

    8:30AM - 9:00AM Registration
    9:00AM - 10:15AM What is Azure? All up overview and demonstration of the various services and capabilities of Windows and SQL Azure including a review of costs and benefits associated with each
    10:15AM - 10:30AM Break
    10:30AM - 12:00PM All About Storage in Azure (including hands-on lab)
    1:00PM - 2:30PM Building Services in Azure (including hands-on lab)
    2:30PM - 2:45PM Break
    2:45PM - 4:15PM All About Security in Azure (including hands-on labs)
    4:15PM Closing Summary, Next Steps

    To get the most out of the hand-on labs, make sure to bring either your personal or business credit card. It’s required in order to activate your Azure subscription. You’ll need to do this even if you only want to use it for the event and deactivate it afterwards.

    The Windows Azure Experience Lab will be held on Monday, February 7, 2011 at 11 King Street West, Suite 1400, Toronto, ON M5H 4C7 from 9:00AM to 5:00PM

    Make sure to register today

    I look forward to seeing you there!

    This article also appears on Canadian Developer Connection

  • Dev Pulse

    Take the Plunge into Windows Azure WAPTK – January Edition

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    WAPTK January Update

    (Haven’t heard the acronym “WAPTK”? No worries – Windows Azure Platform Training Kit. It’s your one stop to get hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform.)

    If you’ve downloaded the WAPTK in the past, that’s great! The Windows Azure Team has just released the January edition of the training kit with new demo scripts, labs for working with Windows Phone 7 and the Cloud, and new and improved code snippets for Visual Studio.

    Some of the specific changes with the January update of the training kit includes:

    Download the January Update to the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit today.

    This article also appears on Canadian Developer Connection

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