Dev Pulse

Sounding the pulse of the developer and development manager

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  • Dev Pulse

    AzureFest Makes A Surprise Visit to Calgary This Weekend

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    AzureFest is making a surprise visit to Calgary this weekend! If you haven’t yet heard of AzureFest, check out this post where AzureFest is described in full.

    Remember, AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along on your own laptop and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, make sure to bring your laptop, a power cable if you’re going to need to plug in your laptop, and a credit card. Don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card during AzureFest. Your credit card is just required for activating your Windows Azure account.

    If you want to see for yourself how easy it is to move your existing application to the cloud, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Register early as space is limited.

    Calgary
    University of Calgary, Rm 121 ICT Building
    2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB
    Saturday, April 30, 2011
    Click here to register

    Have plans? No problem! A virtual AzureFest is coming your desktop in May – stay tuned.

  • Dev Pulse

    AzureFest Meets the East Coast

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    East Coast, after many hours of logistics discussions and preparations, AzureFest is coming your way! If you haven’t yet heard of AzureFest, check out this post where AzureFest is described in full.

    Remember, AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along on your own laptop and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, make sure to bring your laptop, a power cable if you’re going to need to plug in your laptop, and a credit card. Don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card during AzureFest. Your credit card is just required for activating your Windows Azure account.

    Here’s the information for the cities on the AzureFest East Coast Tour. If you want to see for yourself how easy it is to move your existing application to the cloud, this is an event you don’t want to miss. Register early as space is limited.

    Moncton
    Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce Board Room – First Floor
    1273 Main Street, Suite 200, Moncton, NB
    Friday, May 6, 2011 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Fredericton
    UNB Campus
    Room 317, ITC
    Saturday, May 7, 2011 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Halifax
    The Hub
    1673 Barrington St., 2nd Floor, Halifax, NS
    Sunday, May 8, 2011 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    We’re always looking to hear your thoughts and suggestions on the things that we do. If you have any feedback, we’d really appreciate it if you would share it with us here. We’re starting to think of the next wave of AzureFests – what would you like to see us cover in the next hands-on event? Post any and all suggestions you may have here. We’ll take everyone’s input and design AzureFest 2.0 accordingly. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Moncton, Halifax, and Fredericton developers, enjoy AzureFest!

  • Dev Pulse

    Azure At the Movies: Get In The Cloud

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    When was the last time you had a chance to go to the movie theatre during the day? More importantly, when was the last time you learned something new at the movie theatre? Well Azure at the Movies will not only get you out to the ScotiaBank Theatre on May 5, 2011 from 9 AM to noon, but it will also guarantee that you walk away having learned how to provide stability and elasticity for your web based solutions using Windows Azure.

    Join me and the gang from ObjectSharp, Barry Gervin, Cory Fowler, Dave Lloyd, Bruce Johnson, and Steve Syfuhs for a half day event in Toronto where we’ll explore how Silverlight, ASP.NET MVC, Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio, and Powershell all work together with Windows Azure to give you, the developer, the best development experience and your application the platform to reach infinite scale and success.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011
    Registration: 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM
    Seminar: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    ScotiaBank Theatre, 259 Richmond Street West, Toronto

    Click here to register.

    I look forward to seeing you there and chatting about your journey to the Cloud and how I may be able to help.

  • Dev Pulse

    Moving Your Application to the Cloud

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    Moving Your Application to the Cloud_thumb[16]

    When considering Windows Azure and the Cloud, architects and developers are often discouraged, thinking that in order to move a solution to the Cloud it must be reengineered to support the Cloud. Fortunately, that is not the case as there are different ways that a solution can take advantage of the Cloud.

    Designed For Windows Azure – Consider this option if you are in the process of planning or developing the next release of your solution. When you design your solution for Windows Azure, you take advantage of the cloud-based services available with Windows Azure – commonly Blob Storage, Tables, Queues, and SQL Azure. Going a step further, you may leverage the programmatic scalability of Windows Azure to allow your solution to scale up and down as it needs in order to handle additional traffic or increased processing loads. The Windows Azure programming model is what enables this for your solution (and the application(s) with in it) and it is worth getting familiar with it in order to optimize how your solution can leverage the power of the Cloud. To learn more, you can download the Why Develop in the Cloud: The Windows Azure Programming Model whitepaper.

    Compatible with Windows Azure – if rewriting portions of your solution to use cloud-based services is not an option or is not on the product roadmap in the near future, it does not mean that you cannot leverage Windows Azure to realize the infrastructure and cost benefits that come with the Cloud. With the Windows Azure VM role, you can run your solution in the Cloud without any modifications. Though you manage the VM completely and are required to maintain the VM (patches, fixes, etc.), you are still taking advantage of the Windows Azure environment: immediate scalability, in-place upgrades with no service downtown, and load-balanced traffic. This is a great option with which to get started on your journey to adopt the Cloud.

    Having said that, the best way to determine which areas of your solution can and cannot be modified easily to leverage Cloud services is to give it a try! Before you go ahead, make changes to your solution, and start testing those changes, you are going to want to:

    1. Make sure that you understand Windows Azure under the hood. To do that, take the Windows Azure Jump Start course.
    2. With the concepts understood, take a sample application, as in Deploying a Simple Cloud App, and migrate it to Windows Azure. This will give you an idea of the effort involved in moving an existing application to the Cloud and will allow you to extrapolate and plan migration efforts for your application.
    3. For more in-depth application of the concepts, go through the labs included in the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit. These labs will materialize those concepts for you at depth and make sure that you are ready to implement them in your application.

    When you are ready to leverage Cloud services in your solution, send me an email or a message on Twitter. I’d love to connect and see how I can help you and/or connect you with various local Windows Azure experts that can help you, and your organization, on your journey to the (Windows Azure) Cloud.

  • Dev Pulse

    Continue Your Cloud Development Learning

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    Windows-Azure-Jump-Start_thumb3If you’ve recently joined me for AzureFest in Toronto and Mississauga, thank you for coming out! I hope the session was a worthwhile experience for you and that you were able to see how your existing knowledge and skills with .NET and Visual Studio can be leveraged to develop applications for the Cloud.

    If you’re going to be joining AzureFest in another Canadian city, that’s great!

    Either way, now you’ve taken the first step and have started working with Windows Azure, why not continue and explore concepts that I didn’t cover at AzureFest?

    Windows Azure Jump Start Videos

    We’ve put together an excellent video series for you called Windows Azure Jump Start. It’s perfect for watching during a lunch break or in the evening when you need or want to think about something other than work. Each video is about 45-50 minutes and focuses on the different areas of Windows Azure: the Windows Azure environment, application lifecycle, storage, diagnostics, security, and scalability.

    Here are the links to the videos, slides, and source code:

    Session 1: Windows Azure Overview

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 2: Introduction to Compute

    Video

    Slides

    Session 3: Windows Azure Lifecycle, Part 1

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 4: Windows Azure Lifecycle, Part 2

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 5: Windows Azure Storage, Part 1

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 6: Windows Azure Storage, Part 2

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 7: Introduction to SQL Azure

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 8: Windows Azure Diagnostics

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 9: Windows Azure Security, Part 1

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 10: Windows Azure Security, Part 2

    Video

    Slides

    Code

    Session 11: Scalability, Caching, & Elasticity, Part 1

    Video

    Slides

    Session 12: Scalability, Caching & Elasticity, Part 2 and Q&A

    Video

    Slides
    (Same as session 11)


    But before you get started, I’d like to review with you these three things:

    Windows Azure Subscription

    Do you have a Windows Azure subscription yet? If not, there are three ways to get started:

    MSDN Subscription Benefits: If you have MSDN Premium, MSDN Ultimate, or BizSpark, you have complimentary monthly Windows Azure benefits that you can unlock for learning and testing. For more information on your benefits, check out my blog post, Ramp Up on Windows Azure MSDN Benefits, and activate your benefits today.

    Windows Azure Introductory Special: This one is for you if you’d like to take your time as you go through your learning and testing journey. With the Windows Azure Introductory special, you get Windows Azure hours for free each month. The Introductory special does require a credit card, but as long as you stay within the included hours and resources, you will not be charged for anything. Go ahead and activate your Introductory Special.

    Windows AzureWindows Azure Pass: If you’re a fast learner or need a forcing function to make sure that you do the training in a given period of time, you can activate a 30-day Windows Azure Pass. The Windows Azure Pass provides a comparable number of hours and resources as does the Introductory Special without the need for a credit card. However, after 30-days, your account and anything you may have deployed will be deleted. If you think that 30 days is enough for you and you don’t want to use a credit card, go to http://windowsazurepass.com, select Canada as your country, and enter the promo code CDNDEVS.

    2: Tools for the Cloud

    Once you have your subscription activated, download and install the tool add-ins that you’ll need for that rich development environment experience. You can download them from the Windows Azure Developer Center.

    3: Windows Azure Platform Training Kit

    Last but not least, download the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit.  It includes hands-on labs and several sample applications to help you quickly learn how to use Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and the Windows Azure AppFabric.

  • Dev Pulse

    AzureFest Madness Continues

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    I just came back from Vancouver where I had the pleasure of doing an AzureFest for members of the .netBC, VanTUG, and VanSLUG user groups. We had a great turn out, with 86 people showing up to learn about Windows Azure! Thank you to all of you who came.

    When I originally posted that AzureFest is back, I promised you that AzureFest would be coming to a city near you. The team and I have been working on securing more venues and more dates, and I will share those as soon as they are confirmed. Having said that, AzureFest Ottawa is now confirmed!

    My fellow developer evangelist, Christian Beauclair (@cbeauclair) will be at the Ottawa Code Camp on April 16th. Join him from 12:30 pm to 1:45 pm for a demonstration of the developer tools and deployment of an application to the Cloud. If you have a laptop and a rocket stick (unfortunately there will not be wireless at the event), you can activate your Windows Azure subscription and follow along, deploying your own app to the Cloud by the end of the talk.

    To attend AzureFest Ottawa, register for Ottawa Code Camp here. I’ve also updated the original AzureFest post to include all of the information you need in order to attend.

    Stay tuned for more dates and cities!

    Learn more about AzureFest.

  • Dev Pulse

    Connecting Windows Azure to Windows Phone Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

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    clip_image002_thumb7

    As of today, connecting Windows Azure to your application running on Windows Phone 7 just got a whole lot easier with the release of the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7 designed to make it easier for you to leverage the cloud services running in Windows Azure. The toolkit, which you can find on CodePlex, includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation.

    The toolkit contains the following resources:

    • Binaries – Libraries that you can use in your Windows Phone 7 applications to make it easier to work with Windows Azure (e.g. a full storage client library for blobs and tables). You can literally add these libraries to your existing Windows Phone 7 applications and immediate start leveraging services such as Windows Azure storage.
    • Docs – Documentation that covers setup and configuration, a review of the toolkit content, getting started, and some troubleshooting tips.
    • Project Templates – VSIX (which is the unit of deployment for a Visual Studio 2010 Extension) files are available that create project templates in Visual Studio, making it easy for you to build brand new applications.
    • Samples – Sample application that fully leverages the toolkit, available in both C# and VB.NET.  The sample application is also built into one of the two project templates created by the toolkit.

    There’s a really great article on how to get started in the wiki. Definitely check that out before you get started. To help make it even easier to get started with the toolkit, today’s (3/25) Cloud Cover episode will focus on the toolkit and how to get started using it. Over the next few weeks, videos, tutorials, demo scripts, and other great resources to go along with the toolkit will be released. Stay tuned here – I’ll keep you posted with all the new stuff as soon as it becomes available!

    Want more?
    If those resources aren’t enough to get you started, make sure to stop by Wade Wegner’s blog (a fellow evangelist) for a quick “how to get started" tutorial.

    Get Windows Azure free for 30 days

    Windows AzureAs a reader of the Canadian Mobile Developers’ blog, you can get free access to Windows Azure for 30 days while you’re trying out the toolkit. Go to windowsazurepass.com, select Canada as your country, and enter the promo code CDNDEVS.

    If you think you need more than 30 days, no problem. Sign up for the Introductory Special instead. From now until June 30, you’ll get 750 hours per month free!

    If you have an MSDN subscription, you have Windows Azure hours included as part of your benefits. Sign in to MSDN and go to your member’s benefits page to activate your Windows Azure benefits.

    Next Steps
    Download the toolkit and get your app connected to Windows Azure.

    This post is also featured on the Canadian Mobile Developers’ Blog.

  • Dev Pulse

    AzureFest is Back!

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    AzureFest_thumb[2]_thumb

    On Saturday, December 11, 2010, Canadian MVPs Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4) and Barry Gervin (@bgervin) met with developers in Mississauga and showed them how developing and deploying applications to Windows Azure is fast and easy. You can read about it on Joey’s post from that Saturday.

    Now, AzureFest is back! If you weren’t able to come out in December, now’s your chance to see how you can leverage the skills you already have (.NET, Java, PHP, or Ruby) and the tools you already know (Visual Studio, Eclipse, etc.) to deploy applications to Windows Azure. You’ll learn everything to you need to know to get up and running with Windows Azure quickly including:

    • Overview of Cloud Computing and Windows Azure
    • Setting up the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio
    • Setting up your Windows Azure account
    • Migrating a traditional on-premise ASP.NET MVC application to the Cloud
    • Deploying solutions to Windows Azure

    AzureFest is a hands-on event. This means that you’ll be following along in your own development environment and actually deploying your solution during the event. In order to get the most out of the experience, you’ll need to bring a laptop with you that is running Windows Vista SP1 or Windows 7 with the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio installed. If you don’t have Visual Studio, or are not working with .NET, that’s OK. Use the language and tools of your choice – help will be on hand to assist you.

    You’ll also need to bring a credit card. Windows Azure activations require a credit card even for the trial period, but don’t worry, nothing will be charged to your credit card as the last part of the event shows you how to take down all of your Windows Azure instances.

    We’re taking AzureFest across Canada, and will be coming to a city near you. Check out the listings below to get all the information you need about each of the cities. Don’t see a city that’s near you? Keep checking back as we will be adding more cities and dates as we confirm them. If you’d like to help organize an AzureFest in your city or at your user group, please contact me via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

    Where and When

    Downtown Toronto
    Microsoft Canada
    Ernst & Young Tower
    222 Bay Street, 12th floor
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 6:00PM – 9;00PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4), Barry Gervin (@bgervin)

    Mississauga
    Microsoft Canada
    1950 Meadowvale Boulevard
    Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:00PM - 9:00PM 
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4), Barry Gervin (@bgervin)

    Vancouver
    BCIT, Burnaby Campus
    3700 Willingdon Avenue
    Tuesday, April 5, 2011 6:00PM – 9:00PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)

    Ottawa
    Algonquin College Campus
    1385 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa
    Saturday, April 16, 2011 12:45PM – 1:30PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Christian Beauclair (@cbeauclair)

    Calgary
    University of Calgary, Rm 121 ICT Building
    2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB
    Saturday, April 30, 2011 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Michael Diehl (@MikeDiehl_Wpg) and Tyler Doerksen (@Tyler_gd)
    Moncton
    Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce Board Room – First Floor
    1273 Main Street, Suite 200, Moncton, NB
    Friday, May 6, 2011 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Fredericton
    UNB Campus
    Room 317, ITC
    Saturday, May 7, 2011 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Halifax
    The Hub
    1673 Barrington St., 2nd Floor, Halifax, NS
    Sunday, May 8, 2011 1:30PM – 4:30 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Cory Fowler (@SyntaxC4)

    Quebec City
    l'École National d'Administration Publique (ENAP), salle 4114
    555, boul.Charest Est, Québec, QC
    Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Frédéric Harper (@fharper)

    Montreal
    Microsoft Canada
    2000 McGill College, Montreal, QC
    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Frederic Harper (@fharper)
    Winnipeg
    Online Business Systems, Assiniboine Room, 2nd Floor
    200-115 Bannatyne Ave., Winnipeg, MB
    Thursday, May 19, 2011 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM
    Click here to register

    Presenters: John Bristowe (@jbristowe)
    Waterloo
    Coming Soon!
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)
    Virtual Lunch and Learn Series
    Online
    Part 1: Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Part 2: Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Part 3: Thursday, June 2, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST, CST, MST, PST
    Click here to register

    Presenters: Jonathan Rozenblit (@jrozenblit)

    Make sure you register early as space is limited. Make sure to find me when you’re are the event – it will be an opportunity for us to chat about what you’re working on, possible projects to move to the Cloud, and how I can help extend your skills to the Cloud.

  • 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

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    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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    Getting to know Windows Azure AppFabric

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    As you know, the Windows Azure platform has many moving parts – one of which is AppFabric. In a nutshell, AppFabric is a middleware platform for developing, deploying, and managing applications on the Windows Azure platform. It breaks down into these key areas:

    • Middleware Services: Access Control, Service Bus, Caching, and soon to be Integration, and Composite Application
    • Composite Application Environment (planned for future releases): Composition Model, Visual Design Tools managed as a Service
    • Scale-Out Application Infrastructure (planned for future releases): Composition Runtime, Sandboxing and Multi-tenancy, State Management, Scale-Out and High Availability, Dynamic Address Resolution and Routing

    Itai Raz, Product Manager for Windows Azure AppFabric, just started a new blog post series that will explore key concepts and principles of Windows Azure AppFabric.  Before going into all of the technical details, Part 1 of the series (What is Windows Azure AppFabric trying to solve?) gives a great introduction and describes the challenges that Windows Azure AppFabric is meant to address. I love that he explains what AppFabric is trying to achieve - I believe that knowing why something was created before getting into its nitty-gritty ensures that it’s used in the way that it was intended to be used. Follow the series to learn more about the capabilities of AppFabric and how each of them will help address the challenges Itai talks about in Part 1.

    You should also visit the Windows Azure App Fabric Developer Center on MSDN to help you get started learning Windows Azure AppFabric.  If you scroll towards the bottom of the page, you’ll find “How Do I?” videos and a couple of AppFabric samples you can download to get you going.

    Here are a few additional places where you can learn about Windows Azure AppFabric:

    On February 7, 2011, tune in to watch Windows Azure Boot Camp: Connecting with AppFabric, a 200 level webcast that will look at how to secure a REST Service, what you can do to connect services together, and how to work with firewalls and NATs.

    And if the above wasn’t enough, you can also check out the Windows Azure AppFabric Team’s Blog and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

    This post also appears on Canadian Developer Connection

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    Is security and privacy in the Cloud just a little cloudy?

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    When you consider developing new applications for the Cloud - or consider migrating existing apps to the Cloud - you’re probably starting to think about the security of your application's data. There are many “myths” around this particular topic and many skeptics that use them as a safety blanket to stay away from putting applications in the Cloud.

    IT In Canada’s Mary Allen just posted a great interview with John WeigeIt, Microsoft Canada’s cloud policy expert and national technology officer, entitled Patriots and PIPEDA – locating security and privacy in the cloud. In this article, they discuss the various aspects of data security and privacy that are people’s minds. I highly recommend reading the article even though there’s no code; take some notes so that you’re armed and ready with information when someone asks you what you think about security and privacy in the Cloud. Here are some key points to take away from the interview:

    • The location of the data is not what’s important. it is where control of that data resides that is important. (Page 5)
    • The focus of the security and privacy discussions should be around safeguarding your information and what you’re doing to secure it regardless of where it is hosted. As WeigeIt says: What you need to consider is the security of that environment. There are local tools that you can use, such as encryption, but you should consider what information you have, which tools should be applied, and based on the sensitivity of the data, whether or not this should be hosted outside the organization. (Page 8)
    • Cloud solutions are not black and white. Cloud solutions are not "all in" or "not in at all" (I have heard this one from some architects and IT professionals). Your applications can be a mix of Cloud and on-premise. WeigeIt believes that “you can divide up your particular services and use cloud in an innovative way that allows you take advantage of cloud scalability while protecting privacy.”  (Page 8)
    • The “Cloud” is not necessarily a public cloud. The same principles that make up the public cloud can be applied to create a private cloud: The last piece is that people can bring cloud philosophies into their own data centres. And by making their own operations more efficient, they can have better control, better line-of-sight visibility into their data and their own operations. They can harness some of those efficiencies that we are able to scale out on the cloud side – and we can provide guidance on how to do that as well. (Page 12)
    • For those who are concerned with who controls the data and who has access to it – even though it’s in the Cloud, it’s still your data and it’s kept safe: You do maintain tight control over your data, we are able to provide you with information about your data, and access to it is automatically audited by third party systems, so there is tight control over the data that you ask us to safeguard on your behalf. The SLAs that small businesses enter into with us would describe specifically what their permissions and their controls are. (Page 9)
    • Some feel that if data is local, it’s safer. Applications and data are specifically put online to remove geographic boundaries, so if the data is accessible from an online application, is the data still local? WeigeIt puts it nicely: Another misperception in this view of cloud risks is the notion that if I have my machine, my computer server local in my environment, then it is safer than if I have it remotely in the closet (or elsewhere). If you have your server connect to the Internet, then it is local to whoever is trying to use it. (Page 11)

    To summarize, in order to make the right decision whether “To Cloud or Not To Cloud?”, it’s important to go past the myth and preconceptions and dig deeper to discover what is relevant to your specific application.  You will then be in a position to make a fact-based decision.

    Stay tuned for more myth busting interviews, information, and resources that will help your “To Cloud or Not To Cloud?” discussions and decisions.

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    Microsoft “Positive” in Gartner’s ALM MarketScope

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    The long anticipated Gartner Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) MarketScope report has been published.  Gartner rated Microsoft as “Positive”, the second highest rating in the MarketScope report, citing “substantially improving” administration and “filling in the gaps” around testing, lab management, and modeling with release of Visual Studio 2010.

    Here is excerpt from the report by Jim Duggan and Thomas E. Murphy specifically around Visual Studio and ALM:

    Visual Studio 2010 gives Microsoft's ALM offering a new, more-cohesive look, and addresses pricing and administration obstacles that have limited the use and adoption of the ALM offering. Microsoft's strategy is to build from the significant base in the construction IDE core (Visual Studio); from the broad enterprise use of Office and SharePoint for requirements, tasks and workflow; and with its aggressive pricing model. It continues to enhance workflow and metadata handling, as well as expand the tools from which you can use the ALM features.
    With Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft reduced the prices of both the VS client and the Team Foundation Server (TFS) component. Microsoft also incorporated interfaces to leverage its project and PPM offerings, as well as its agile methodology positions, to build awareness and commitments in larger clients. Although gaps remain in some management and execution tool areas, the technical approach is well-suited to support multiple instances of tools from multiple vendors. Because Visual Studio has such broad industry support, many of the gaps are "filled," and clients have the ability to exploit existing investments in products like HP Quality Center. Microsoft's recent contributions to filling in the gaps include testing, lab management and modeling in the Visual Studio 2010 release.

    Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) and TFS had demonstrated scalability, but install setup was complicated and there had been administrative challenges for organizations with large numbers of projects. Substantial improvements to administrative facilities have been delivered in Visual Studio 2010. Another area of improvement is the ability to customize workflows, adding flexibility in supporting both agile and more-formal development processes, as well as enabling support from third parties. Additionally, there are more reporting and analytic capabilities. Microsoft's offering is well-architected for provisioning as a service, and for support of agile and other emerging styles of application delivery. Microsoft's commitment to the development tools market, and its depth of resources, should result in continued broadening of the solution.
    Microsoft improved support for Eclipse and for other non-Microsoft environments with Visual Studio Team Explorer Everywhere 2010. This permits users to store artifacts in TFS. Cross-platform support in other parts of the solution are limited, so a separate Java tool stack is likely needed.

    Another plus for Microsoft is the strength of its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) franchise. Relatively low cost and ease of acquisition make MSDN a realistic channel to sell ALM into many accounts.

    Microsoft has a strong reach in the market, and moderate pricing for a large, stable provider. It has a proven, scalable architecture. A large community of supporting vendors helps fill gaps in the tool portfolio.

    Rating: Positive

    To top the great news about the rating, Gartner announced that it will graduate the ALM MarketScope report to Magic Quadrant status effective immediately.

    More information on Visual Studio, Team Foundation Server, and ALM:

  • Dev Pulse

    Essential Resources for Application Lifecycle Management

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    Online

    Case Studies

    Videos

    Books

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