General Microsoft

Windows Azure Roadmap and Announcements – Microsoft PDC 2010

Platform as a service (PaaS) is where developers and businesses will ultimately see the true value of the cloud, and the operating system for platform as a service is Windows Azure. The Windows Azure platform, composed of Windows Azure and SQL Azure, is supported by a rich set of development tools, management and services from Microsoft Corp. It’s built to be flexible and give customers the ability to run the technologies they choose to achieve the power the cloud promises. To understand the basics of Cloud, these Videos and ebook will be helpful.

CloudAt the Professional Developers Conference (PDC), Microsoft is announcing a host of new enhancements and services that make it easier to move to platform as a service, to enhance current applications and workloads, and to transform applications to take full advantage of the underlying platform. Here are the details of the PDC announcements:

Making it easier to move existing applications and run them more efficiently, Microsoft is providing a bridge to PaaS from IaaS.

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role eases the migration of existing Windows Server applications to Windows Azure by eliminating the need to make costly application changes and enables customers to quickly access their existing business data from the cloud. Today at PDC 2010, Microsoft announced Virtual Machine Role support for Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows Azure. A public beta will be available by the end of 2010.
  • Server Application Virtualization enables customers to deploy virtualized application images onto the Windows Azure worker role (single role, single instance) rather than the VM Role. Through this approach, customers can more easily migrate their traditional applications to Windows Azure without the need to rewrite them or to package them within a VM. Once the application is deployed with server application virtualization on Windows Azure, customers can benefit from the automated service management capabilities of Windows Azure including automatic configuration and ongoing operating system management. Server Application Virtualization for Windows Azure will be available as a community technology preview (CTP) before the end of 2010, and the final release will be available to customers in the second half of 2011.
  • Constructing VM role images in the cloud. Microsoft is enabling developers and IT professionals to build VM images for VM role directly in the cloud. This will be offered as an alternative to the current approach of building images on-premises and uploading them over the Internet. This update will be available in 2011.
  • Support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 in the VM Role. Microsoft supports Windows Server 2008 R2 in the Guest OS. In 2011, Microsoft will add support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2.

Enhance applications and workloads with rich new services and features.

  • SQL Azure Reporting allows developers to embed reports into their Windows Azure applications, including rich data visualization and export to popular formats, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and PDF, enabling the users of these applications to gain greater insight and act on their line-of-business data stored in SQL Azure databases. A CTP will be available to customers by the end of 2010. The final release of SQL Azure Reporting will be generally available in the first half of 2011.
  • SQL Azure Data Sync is another important building block service to help developers rapidly build cloud applications on the Windows Azure platform using Microsoft’s cloud database. It allows developers to build apps with geo-replicated SQL Azure data and synchronize on-premises with cloud and mobile applications. A CTP will be available by the end of 2010. A final release of SQL Azure Data Sync is set to be released in the first half of 2011.
  • Database Manager for SQL Azure is a new lightweight, Web-based database management and querying capability for SQL Azure. This capability was formerly referred to as “Project Houston,” and allows customers to have a streamlined experience within the Web browser without having to download any tools. Database Manager for SQL Azure will be generally available by the end of 2010.
  • Windows Azure AppFabric helps developers rapidly build cloud applications on the Windows Azure platform. – AppFabric Caching, which helps developers accelerate the performance of their applications.AppFabric Service Bus enhancements will help developers build reliable, enterprise quality delivery of data or messages, to and from applications to third parties or mobile devices. CTPs will be available at PDC, and both of these important building-block technologies will be generally available the first half of 2011.
  • Windows Azure Marketplace is a single online marketplace for developers and IT professionals to share, find, buy and sell building block components, training, services, and finished services or applications needed to build complete and compelling Windows Azure platform applications. Developers and ISVs will find that the Marketplace is an ideal way to monetize and publicize their offerings to cloud customers, and customers will find that the Marketplace offers an array of technologies they can purchase and use in one stop.

DataMarket is best thought of as an “aisle” in the Windows Azure Marketplace that provides developers and information workers with access to premium third-party data, Web services, and self-service business intelligence and analytics, which they can use to build rich applications. Today there are more than 35 data providers offering data on DataMarket, with over 100 more coming soon. At PDC 2010, DataMarket (formerly code-named “Dallas”) was released to Web, and a Windows Azure Marketplace beta will be released by the end of the year.

  • TFS on Windows Azure. Microsoft demoed Team Foundation Server on Windows Azure, which shows that steps have been made toward cloud-hosted Application Lifecycle Management. It also demonstrates that Windows Azure is capable of running complex, enterprise workloads such as Team Foundation Server with marginal effort. A CTP will be available in 2011.
  • Windows Azure AppFabric – Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control enhancements help customers build federated authorization into applications and services without the complicated programming that is normally required to secure applications beyond organizational boundaries. With support for a simple declarative model of rules and claims, Access Control rules can easily and flexibly be configured to cover a variety of security needs and different identity-management infrastructures. These enhancements are currently available to customers.
  • Windows Azure AppFabric Connect allows customers to bridge existing line-of-business (LOB) integration investments over to Windows Azure using the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus, and connecting to on-premises composite applications running on Windows Server AppFabric. This new set of simplified tooling extends Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 to help accelerate hybrid on- and off-premises composite application scenarios, which are critical for customers starting to develop hybrid applications. This service is freely available today.
  • Windows Azure Virtual Network. New functionality is being introduced under the Windows Azure Virtual Network name. Windows Azure Connect (previously known as “Project Sydney”) enables a simple and easy-to-manage mechanism to set up IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources. The first Windows Azure Virtual Network feature is called Windows Azure Connect. A CTP of Windows Azure Connect will be available by the end of 2010, and it will be generally available in the first half of 2011.
  • Extra Small Windows Azure Instance. At the PDC 2010 Microsoft announced the Extra Small Instance, which will be priced at $0.05 per compute hour in order to make the process of development, testing and trial easier for developers. This will make it affordable for developers interested in running smaller applications on the platform. A beta of this role will be available before the end of 2010.
  • Remote Desktop enables IT professionals to connect to a running instance of their application or service to monitor activity and troubleshoot common problems. Remote Desktop will be generally available later this year.
  • Elevated Privileges. The VM role and Elevated Privileges functionality removes roadblocks that today prevent developers from having full control over their application environment. For small changes such as configuring Internet Information Service (IIS) or installing a Microsoft Software Installer (MSI), Microsoft recommends using the Elevated Privileges admin access feature. This approach is best suited for small changes and enables the developer to retain automated service management at the Guest OS and the application level. Elevated Privileges will be generally available to customers later this year.
  • Full IIS Support enables development of more complete applications using Windows Azure. The Web role will soon provide full IIS functionality, which enables multiple IIS sites per Web role and the ability to install IIS modules. The full IIS functionality enables developers to get more value out of a Windows Azure instance. Full IIS Support will be generally available to customers later this year.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Roles. Windows Azure will now support Windows Server 2008 R2 in its Web, worker and VM roles. This new support will enable customers to take advantage of the full range of Windows Server 2008 R2 features such as IIS 7.5, AppLocker, and enhanced command-line and automated management using PowerShell Version 2.0. This update will be generally available later this year.
  • Multiple Admins. Windows Azure will soon support multiple Windows Live IDs to have administrator privileges on the same Windows Azure account. The objective is to make it easy for a team to work on the same Windows Azure account while using their individual Windows Live IDs. The Multiple Admins update will be generally available later this year.
  • Dynamic Content Caching. With this new functionality, the Windows Azure CDN can be configured to cache content returned from a Windows Azure application. Dynamic Content Caching will be available to customers in 2011.
  • CDN SSL Delivery. Users of the Windows Azure CDN will now have the capability to deliver content via encrypted channels with SSL/TLS. This update will be available in 2011.
  • Improved global connectivity. Microsoft will add new Windows Azure CDN nodes in the Middle East and improve existing connectivity in the U.S. and Brazil in 2011.
  • Improved Java Enablement. Microsoft plans to make Java a first-class citizen on Windows Azure. This process will involve improving Java performance, Eclipse tooling and client libraries for Windows Azure. Customers can choose the Java environment of their choice and run it on Windows Azure. Improved Java Enablement will be available to customers in 2011.

Transform applications to do new things in new ways, highly scalable and highly available

  • Windows Azure AppFabric Composition Model and Composite App Service provides an end-to-end “composite” application development environment to help developers streamline the process of assembling, managing and deploying various home-grown and third-party services that span the Web, middle tier and database in the cloud.
    • The AppFabric Composition Model will help developers compose applications on the Windows Azure Platform with extensions to the .NET Framework and tie them all together through a new Microsoft Visual Studio-based designer experience. A CTP will be available in the first half of 2011.
    • The AppFabric Composite App Service allows developers to take the Composition Model and automate the deployment, configuration, control, monitoring, troubleshooting, reporting and optimization of an application without the usual manual steps. A CTP is also due the first half of 2011.
  • Windows Azure Enhancements. While developers and IT professionals appreciate the reduced management burden that Windows Azure offers, they also place a high value on retaining the flexibility to see and control how their applications and services are running in the cloud. Developers and IT professionals need clear visibility into their cloud applications, along with a high level of control over how these applications are running.

To address these needs, Microsoft is announcing the following developer and operator enhancements at PDC 2010:

  • A completely redesigned Microsoft Silverlight-based Windows Azure portal to ensure an improved and intuitive user experience
  • Access to new diagnostic information including the ability to click on a role to see type and deployment time
  • A new sign-up process that dramatically reduces the number of steps needed to sign up for Windows Azure
  • New scenario-based Windows Azure Platform forums to help answer questions and share knowledge more efficiently

These Windows Azure enhancements will be generally available by the end of 2010.

“Windows Azure Platform Cloud Essentials for Partners” is an offer that replaces Microsoft’s existing partner offers. This offer will go live on Jan. 7, 2011, and provide free access to the Windows Azure platform, including 750 Extra Small Instance hours and a SQL Azure database per month at no additional charge. Partners can sign up for the Cloud Essentials Pack at

For more information about Microsoft’s cloud offerings, please visit the Cloud Computing: A Guide for IT Leaders website.

News Courtesy: Microsoft Corporation

General Microsoft

Microsoft Sync Framework 2.1 Available for Download

Sync Framework 2.1 includes all the great functionality of the 2.0 release, enhanced by several exciting new features and improvements. The most exciting of these lets you synchronize data stored in SQL Server or SQL Server Compact with SQL Azure in the cloud. Microsoft has added top customer requests like parameter-based filtering and the ability to remove synchronization scopes and templates from a database, and of course made many performance enhancements to make synchronization faster and easier. Read on for more detail or start downloading now!

SQL Azure Synchronization

With Sync Framework 2.1, you can leverage the Windows Azure Platform to extend the reach of your data to anyone that has an internet connection, without making a significant investment in the infrastructure that is typically required. Specifically, Sync Framework 2.1 lets you extend your existing on premises SQL Server database to the cloud and removes the need for customers and business partners to connect directly to your corporate network. After you configure your SQL Azure database for synchronization, users can take the data offline and store it in a client database, such as SQL Server Compact or SQL Server Express, so that your applications operate while disconnected and your customers can stay productive without the need for a reliable network connection. Changes made to data in the field can be synchronized back to the SQL Azure database and ultimately back to the on premises SQL Server database. Sync Framework 2.1 also includes features to interact well with the shared environment of Windows Azure and SQL Azure. These features include performance enhancements, the ability to define the maximum size of a transaction to avoid throttling, and automatic retries of a transaction if it is throttled by Windows Azure. All of this is accomplished by using the same classes you use to synchronize a SQL Server database, such as SqlSyncProvider and SqlSyncScopeProvisioning, so you can use your existing knowledge of Sync Framework to easily synchronize with SQL Azure.

What is Cloud Computing? Why should you use Azure? – Read and watch these Videos to understand more

Bulk Application of Changes

Sync Framework 2.1 takes advantage of the table-valued parameter feature of SQL Server 2008 and SQL Azure to apply multiple inserts, updates, and deletes by using a single stored procedure call, instead of requiring a stored procedure call to apply each change. This greatly increases performance of these operations and reduces the number of round trips between client and server during change application. Bulk procedures are created by default when a SQL Server 2008 or SQL Azure database is provisioned.

Parameter-based Filtering

Sync Framework 2.1 enables you to create parameter-based filters that control what data is synchronized. Parameter-based filters are particularly useful when users want to filter data based on a field that can have many different values, such as user ID or region, or a combination of two or more fields. Parameter-based filters are created in two steps. First, filter and scope templates are defined. Then, a filtered scope is created that has specific values for the filter parameters. This two-step process has the following advantages:

  • Easy to set up. A filter template is defined one time. Creating a filter template is the only action that requires permission to create stored procedures in the database server. This step is typically performed by a database administrator.
  • Easy to subscribe. Clients specify parameter values to create and subscribe to filtered scopes on an as-needed basis. This step requires only permission to insert rows in synchronization tables in the database server. This step can be performed by a user.
  • Easy to maintain. Even when several parameters are combined and lots of filtered scopes are created, maintenance is simple because a single, parameter-based procedure is used to enumerate changes.

Removing Scopes and Templates

Sync Framework 2.1 adds the SqlSyncScopeDeprovisioning and SqlCeSyncScopeDeprovisioning classes to enable you to easily remove synchronization elements from databases that have been provisioned for synchronization. By using these classes you can remove scopes, filter templates, and the associated metadata tables, triggers, and stored procedures from your databases.

SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 Compatibility

The Sync Framework 2.1 SqlCeSyncProvider database provider object uses SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2. Existing SQL Server Compact databases are automatically upgraded when Sync Framework connects to them. Among other new features, SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 makes available a change tracking API that provides the ability to configure, enable, and disable change tracking on a table, and to access the change tracking data for the table. SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 can be downloaded here.

For more information about Sync Framework 2.1, including feature comparisons, walkthroughs, how-to documents, and API reference, see the product documentation.

Stay in sync and Download Sync Framework 2.1 today and find out what synchronization can do for you!

Also Read these articles –

General Microsoft Virtualization

Download Video and Ebook – Overview of Cloud Computing

Check out this video “What is Windows Azure and why should I use it?“, where Mark Kottke, Principal Consultant at Microsoft, and Chris Henley, Senior IT Professional Evangelist with Microsoft, discuss early adopter customer experiences with Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and Microsoft Cloud Services.

CloudAlso, Joey and Brian describe what SaaS (Software as a Service) is,  Software plus Services and cloud computing are, and point out types of applications which are best-suited for the cloud. Brian is happy to reveal how IT professionals move up the value food chain and do more of what they aspire to as they begin to leverage cloud computing. The discussion rounds out with a white board chat about the spectrum of applications that might run on-premises, hosted, or in the cloud for an enterprise. View/ Download the Video here

One of the Cloud Computing Strategist Janakiram has authored an eBook on Demystifying the Cloud. ‘Demystifying The Cloud’ has 6 chapters. The first three chapters focus on the core concepts and terminologies while the rest of the chapters introduce the popular Cloud Computing stacks including Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine and Microsoft Windows Azure. This book is meant for developers who want to understand the fundamentals of Cloud Computing. – Download this ebook here (PDF document)

In this cloud computing video, Brian gives the white board a workout as he describes the Windows Azure architecture and answers questions about the IT Pro’s role. With Windows Azure, IT Pros have to deploy applications and manage their health, predict and manage demand for applications, and make sure data is backed up and secure. Brian describes the Windows Azure Platform Application Fabric and touches on SQL Azure, storage elements, blobs, queues and tables. –View/Download this video here

If you’re interested in learning more about cloud computing terminology and architecture, read Darryl Chantry’s article here

How Secure is Cloud Computing?

As with other major technological transitions, the evolution of cloud computing has drawn widespread attention and scrutiny in the news media. It has also raised policy questions concerning how people, organizations, and governments handle information and interactions in this environment. However, with regard to most security and data privacy questions, cloud computing reflects the evolution of the Internet computing experiences we have long enjoyed, rather than a revolution.

This paper examines, at a high level, the changes that this evolution will likely bring to computer security and includes benefits as well as challenges.

Download this paper here [.pdf format]

General Microsoft

AppFabric LABS Environment from the Windows Azure Platform Team

The Windows Azure platform AppFabric team has released the AppFabric LABS environment. This is a new environment which the Product Team will use to showcase some early bits and get feedback from the community. Usage for this environment will not be billed.

AppFabric Labs provide a way for customers to test out and play with experimental AppFabric technologies. These are upcoming capabilities that excite us, and we want to get your feedback on them as soon as possible. As a result, there is no support or SLA associated with the LABS environment, but in return you will be able to preview the future of AppFabric while helping us shape it. Though similar to a Community Technology Preview, LABS technologies may occasionally be even farther away from commercial availability. In this release of the LABS environment, two features are shipped:

  1. Silverlight support: Added the ability for Silverlight clients to make cross-domain calls to the Service Bus and Access Control Services.
  2. Multicast with Message Buffers: Added the ability for Message Buffers to attach to a multicast group. A message sent to the multicast group is delivered to every Message Buffer that is attached to it.

To get started:

  1. Go to,
  2. Sign up using your Live ID,
  3. Create your LABS project, and
  4. Download LABS samples from here to learn more about these new features!

You would be also interested in reading this – Windows Server AppFabric Beta 2 is available for download

General Microsoft

Windows Server AppFabric reached the Beta 2 and is available for download

On Monday, March 1st, Windows Server AppFabric reached the Beta 2 milestone and is publicly available for download.  First announced at PDC 2009, Windows Server AppFabric is a set of application services focused on improving the speed, scale, and management of Web, Composite, and Enterprise applications.  
Developers and IT Pros can expect the following benefits from Windows Server AppFabric:
Faster Web Apps Made Easy
Windows Server AppFabric helps developers improve the speed and availability of web applications through distributed in-memory caching and replication technology that works with current ASP.NET applications.
Simplified Composite Apps
Developers can simplify the development of composite applications with the pre-built application services in Windows Server AppFabric, used in conjunction with Visual Studio tools and .NET Framework capabilities (ASP.NET, WCF and WF). IT Pros can also simplify the deployment, monitoring, and management of composite applications with configuration and monitoring capabilities that are integrated with familiar tools (PowerShell, IIS Manager, and System Center).
Enterprise Performance and Availability
An enterprise’s most important and demanding applications can achieve elastic scale, performance, availability, and reliability (benefits often associated with the cloud) with the help of Windows Server AppFabric. These and countless other benefits from an unparalleled partner ecosystem utilize familiar skills from the .NET Framework and Windows Server.
Additional Resources:

Information (including download link) for Windows Azure AppFabric:
Gartner Research Report: Microsoft AppFabric: A Platform for the Cloud Era is Under Construction
Microsoft News Center feature story on Windows Server & Windows Azure platform AppFabric:
Beta2 Blog Post on Windows Server Blog:
Additional information on Windows Server AppFabric: