Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting Started with Azure

Since the Microsoft PDC at the end of October, I've been tasked with digging into Windows Azure to see where it might fit into plans for a project we are working on. I've had to merge this responsibility in with the rest of my daily responsibilities designing and building other applications, so I end up starting and stopping a lot on my research. It's great that my job offers me not only the opportunity to do these things, but the flexibility to even consider using technologies that are barely CTP for projects that we need to deliver within the next year.

I've done a lot of research, but I don't think I've even seen the tip of the iceberg yet on what is involved in designing a real, production application for Azure. There are so many things to consider when jumping to a completely new platform, that it's not just almost overwhelming, at times it IS completely overwhelming.

The best suggestion I could give someone who is just starting out, is to do the Hands On Labs for Azure. In fact, there are all kinds of samples to try. The difficult thing is to try to remember which ones you have done, and which ones you haven't. If I could make one suggestion to Microsoft is that they need to pull all the various SDK's and Toolkits and Samples together into one "Cloud Computing Toolkit Package" that a developer can download once, installs into one location, and provides a unified index for finding what you need quickly. I find it quite embarassing to post what I think is a valid question onto the MSDN forums only to find out that topic was well covered in an SDK Sample I just hadn't found yet. I take a lot of pride in not wasting other people's time in having them do my research for me.

Here's a list of the SDK's / Toolkits and samples available regarding The Microsoft Cloud

Azure Services Kit: Contains the Hands On Labs - Installs to c:\AzureServicesKit by default. Start with this one and go through all the labs. Every case is quite simple, but well done, thought here are a few errors in the code

Windows Azure SDK - Samples are included in a Zip file. On my machine, this installed to C:\Program Files\Windows Azure SDK

Microsoft .NET Services - Samples include AccessControl, Service Bus, Workflow and are installed on my machine to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft .NET Services (Nov 2008 CTP) SDK

Microsoft Sync Framework - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Microsoft Sync Framework

Silverlight - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Silverlight

Microsoft SQL Server Data Services SDK - C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Data Services SDK

Windows Live ID - C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live ID\WebAuth\Sample

Windows Mobile - C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK R2

I'll add more links as I find them.