I've been curious about Azure and cloud computing since Microsoft started rolling out this initiative last year, and I've trying to understand how experienced .NET developers could put this technology to work. In a series of interesting blog posts, Microsoft Developer Evangelist Maor David-Pur answers these questions and provides a concrete, step-by-step example.
The first blog in the series is entitled "Creating and Executing First Cloud Project with Windows Azure." Here, David-Pur walks through a brief description of Azure, explains the prerequisites for its use, and then jumps right into the real meat: an annotated series of screenshots that show how to find and use Azure-based project templates in Visual Studio. He takes a standard ASP.NET Web application and modifies it to work with Azure, then sets up a cloud-based Web service to match. He concludes with an illustration of the Azure development fabric.
The second blog in the series is shows how to deploy an Azure project to the cloud. Here, David-Pur takes the ASP.NET application he created in the first blog and walks readers through the steps necessary to host it on Azure. He begins with a login to the Windows Azure Services Developer Portal and the creation of a new Hosted Service Project. Next the project gets a label, a description, and a name, after which it becomes both visible and usable as a service. Next, he walks through the steps involved in deploying the project from Visual Studio to the cloud, after which it's possible to deploy it to a staging server and ultimately to a production server. You can try out his Azure sample application yourself online.
A Community Technology Preview (CTP) for Azure is already available, and in his final blog in this series, David-Pur publishes his Azure code sample to let developers see the various modeling constructs and definitions at work in the example he walks through in his other two blog. If you don't want to jump through the hoops necessary to earn admission into the Azure Services Platform beta program via Microsoft Connect, you can simply download and install the Windows Azure SDK along with the Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio to emulate this environment using your own development computers. Working with the Cloud Services templates and the sample code (a toy application is included with the Azure download, but David-Pur's code presents a more real-world example) you can try this environment out for yourself.
For those to whom the notion of running a data center from the cloud sounds more like a blessing than a curse, this could be just the thing!
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at email@example.com with comments, questions or suggested topics or tools to review.