Azure Tip #1 – Getting Started

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It is time to get started with developing and deploying applications to the cloud with the Windows Azure Platform.  Azure will be in production in January and free to use until February which means this is the perfect time to start learning since it is basically production ready now but you don’t have to pay for it.  This post is the first in a series of upcoming tips.  I have been playing around with Azure on the side for a few months now and would like to share some of the things that I have and will run into.  To get started, here are a few suggestions on what I would do to get a feel for Azure if I were to do it again.

Sign Up for an Azure Account

  • You will want to get access to both Windows Azure and SQL Azure to start.  You will need a Windows Live id that both of the accounts will get linked to.  The Windows Azure account was setup immediately for me, but I had to wait 2 days to receive my SQL Azure registration token.

Setup Development Environment

  • Get a Machine or VPC with Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.  I personally started with Server 2008 on a VPC but it was so darn slow.  Instead of dealing with the performance I decided to try out Windows 7 and boot to VHD. Go for Windows 7, it is so fast even when booting to VHD.
  • Choose your IDE.  I chose Visual Studio 2008, however, they say 2010 will work as well.
  • Download & Install Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Studio
  • Download & Install Windows Azure SDK
  • You could also install the AppFabric, however, it is not necessary and it is something I personally would wait until you are comfortable with Azure.
  • Downloads Page (This link will likely be valid longer than the ones above.)

Watch / Listen

Things to Try it Out

  1. Connect to SQL Azure 
    1. Through SQL Management Studio
    2. Using ADO.NET from your desktop
    3. Using ADO.NET from a deployed Web or Worker Role
  2. Deploy a Web Role
  3. Deploy a Worker Role
  4. Take an existing application and move it to Azure
    1. Create the database schema on SQL Azure
    2. Deploy the web application to Staging

This tip consisted mostly of ideas on things to try and links to resources.  In future tips I will start to go through some of these items individually in more detail.


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