In this episode I introduce you to the Windows Azure management portal and walk you through its various features.
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In this episode I show you what you need to start developing for Windows Azure and gives you a tour of the local development environment.
Mike Benkovich, Azure MVP Scott Klein, and yours truly will be hosting another Windows Azure Office Hours online session this Friday (December 2nd), starting at 1:00 PM CST. Below is an overview of Windows Azure Office Hours:
Getting started with Cloud Computing? Can’t find the answer online? Then this event is for you. Each week we bring together subject matter experts to learn from them and provide you a forum to ask questions and get answers.
Windows Azure Office Hours are an unstructured weekly event where you can get your questions answered. Browse to http://wabc.benkotips.com/OfficeHrs and enter your questions and we will answer them live during the event.
You can register for the event here: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032500875&Culture=en-US. Hope to see you there!
I know it’s a little last minute, but Mike Benkovich and I will be hosting a Windows Azure Office Hours online session this afternoon at 1:00 PM CST. Here’s a description of the event:
What’s the deal with Identity? In this week’s Windows Azure Office Hours we sit down with an expert who has been having that conversation about how to security authenticate a user with credentials from the cloud and use it in real applications. A frequent speaker at conferences and boot camp events, Adam Grocholski is a Cloud expert who helps customers understand how to take full advantage of Windows Azure.
You can register for the event here: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032499678&Culture=en-US. Hope to see you there!
In this installment, I explain what Windows Azure is, how it fits into cloud computing, and walk through the various platform components.
I’m a huge fan of screencasts as a learning tool. Companies like Pluralsight and TekPub have created some great resources for developers. However, for many of us I believe it can be challenging to find that much time in a day to watch a screencast. It can also be difficult to try and watch a screencast in multiple sittings as you inevitably have to rewind to remember the context of where you left off. What’s worse is that you may watch a 60 minute screencast and feel like you got nothing out of it. Several months ago I had an idea to create a screencast series in which each episode teaches the viewer about a single concept, or “just one thing” (the title of the series coincidentally). Since I’m currently focusing on Windows Azure, I thought I would start this series by creating a bunch of screencasts about different components of the platform. The first episode is entitled “What is the Cloud?” and explains what cloud computing is and the problems it helps us solve. Enjoy!
On Thursday, November 17th, 2011, Jonathon Oman from RBA Consulting will be presenting on building low latency web applications on the Windows Azure platform at the Twin Cities Cloud Computing User Group. Here’s a brief description of his session:
While Windows Azure applications are very similar to on-premises applications, there are some things that are different (and even easier) in the cloud, especially when it comes to scalability and performance. This presentation provides an overview of building applications with low latency on the Windows Azure Platform. Topics covered will include asynchronous design patterns, managing data access, and tuning application performance. A basic understanding of Windows Azure is assumed.
You can register for the event here.
This week I’ve been hanging out at Microsoft in Redmond participating in an Azure deep, deep, deep dive training program. There has been a lot of great content, some of which I can share and some of which I can’t, at least not yet. Yesterday, Eugenio Pace delivered a great session on identity management in Azure. I’ve been working with identity management and Azure’s Access Control Service for some time now, but he reminded me of how overwhelming it can be for a developer who has never dealt with identity management in the past. One of the main reasons for this has to do with all of the terminology associated with identity management that many developers are not familiar with. I thought I’d use this post to give you a run down of the terms associated with identity management, so here you go:
- Relying Party (RP) – your application.
- Subject – a user of your application.
- Identity Provider (IdP) – the service your application uses to authenticate a user (subject).
- Claim – a statement made by the identity provider (IdP) about the user (subject). This is typically a name value pair (i.e. name and value of the claim). Examples of claims are:
- The subject claims to have a first name of Adam
- The subject claims to have a last name of Grocholski
- The subject claims to have a job title of Technical Evangelist
- Token – a collection claims. There are two types of tokens to be concerned with when use Windows Azure ACS:
- Security Application Markup Language token (SAML) – specifies an XML format for tokens.
- Simple Web Token (SWT) – tokens are expressed as form-encoded key/value pairs signed with a cryptographic key
- Protocol – method of dealing with the issuing, renewing, and validating of security tokens. In identity there are three primary protocols
- SAML-P – I’m not going to discuss this here as it’s currently not supported by ACS. (If you’re interested, you can read up on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_Assertion_Markup_Language#SAML_protocols)
- WS-Federation – a subset of SAML-P used primarily by web sites.
- WS-Trust – used for SOAP web services.
Hope it helps!
When thinking about how to implement Azure as part of your organization strategy, one of the first things you need to thing about is what your Azure environment is going to look like. To do this, you need to understand some abstractions in Azure. Now, when we usually talk about abstractions in Azure, we talk in very developer specific terms(i.e. API’s). However, Azure’s abstractions go well beyond the API. In fact you could look at the entire environment as a hierarchical abstraction that looks like this:
I know, I know, you’re saying “That’s great! Really, it’s awesome! So, why do I care?” Well, you need to understand these abstractions so you can apply the same ALM rigor you use on-premises (or should be using on-premises) in Azure. After all, you don’t want to do the following:
- Charge the same cost centers in your organization paying for development, test, and production environments.
- Give developers full admin access to production, and, possibly, test environments.
With this in mind, you’ll probably want to set up something that looks similar to this:
What does this do? First, it eliminates the problem of all Azure related expenses going to the same cost center in your company by setting up two billing accounts (units of payment). Second, by setting up separate subscriptions (unit of management) under each billing account, we have some control over who has rights to administer each environment. I say “some control” because it should be kept in mind that administrative access is an all-or-nothing proposition at this point in time. There is no ACL concept in Azure to limit who can perform which administrative tasks.
All credit for the ideas in this post goes to Tom Hollander at Microsoft. He delivered a killer presentation on Azure and ALM last week in Redmond at an Azure architecture deep dive. For an in-depth look at this concept, I highly recommend this post by Tom.
Several months ago Jayson Go (an RBA colleague) and I wrote several articles for MSDN’s Real Worlds Windows Azure Guidance series. These articles are based on our real world experience building applications for Windows Azure. Today I’m pleased to announce that the articles are now live on MSDN. You can find the details of the eight articles Jayson and I wrote below.
Real World: ASP.NET Forms-Based Authentication Models for Windows Azure
This article explains how to implement three different models for incorporating forms-based authentication in ASP.NET applications that are hosted on the Windows Azure platform, and provides guidance on when to use each model.
Real World: Creating Custom Performance Counters for Windows Azure Applications with PowerShell
This article describes how you can create custom performance counters using PowerShell scripts to gather metrics that can help you determine the health of a Windows Azure web application.
Real World: Designing a Scalable Partitioning Strategy for Windows Azure Table Storage
This article discusses topics related to partitioning a Windows Azure Table and the strategies used to ensure efficient scalability.
Real World: Dynamically Scaling a Windows Azure Application
The article describes the design considerations for building a scaling engine for Windows Azure.
Real World: How to Connect to the Cloud
This discusses current challenges in establishing connectivity with services, and shows how the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus helps you to address those challenges.
Real World: Simulating Load on a Windows Azure Application
This discusses load simulation for web applications that are hosted in Windows Azure. In this article, a simple load test scenario is used.
Real World: Windows Azure Diagnostics
This discusses the diagnostic options that are available in Windows Azure, and provides strategies and best practices that you can adopt when you instrument your applications.
Real World: Windows Azure Storage Basics
This discusses the basics of Windows Azure Storage. It explores the architecture of the storage system, and explains how it provides available, durable, reliable and highly-scalable storage services.