Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform Paperback – Oct 5 2009
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From the Back Cover
Leverage the capabilities of Azure
Cloud-based applications make it easier to share data, and the Azure Platform moves processing and storage from individual corporate servers and websites to large Microsoft data centers. With this book, Roger Jennings offers you an overview of cloud computing and shares his approach for hands-on programming of Windows Azure Storage Services (tables, blobs, and queues) and web, worker, and .NET Services applications. You'll learn how to program with Azure components, while online chapters cover new SQL Azure Database and Workflow features.
Addresses various issues you may encounter when moving from on-premise to cloud-based applications (such as security, privacy, regulatory compliance, and backup and recovery)
Shows how to adapt ASP.NET authentication and role management to Azure web roles
Reveals the benefits of offloading computing services to one or more WorkerRoles when moving to Windows Azure
Teaches you how to choose the optimum combination of PartitionKey and RowKey values for sharding Azure tables
Discusses ways to improve the scalability and performance of Azure tables
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About the Author
Roger Jennings is the principal consultant of OakLeaf Systems and the author of more than 30 books, including Professional ADO.NET 3.5 with LINQ and the Entity Framework and a contributing editor to Visual Studio Magazine.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book does not offer a comprehensive example of Azure application (from end to end). If you are experienced programmer or if you have someone on your team is, then you should be able to create your Azure application with some information covered in this book and supplemental information with your own research. Overall, I am pleased with this book's depth and coverage.
The book's Part I starts with cloud-computing definitions and answers the most common question, "What is cloud computing?" Chapter 2 provides an overview of the architecture of Microsoft's new data centers and the details of how the specialized hardware and Azure Production Fabric combine to provide high availability, deliver reliability through replication, and enable automatic scale-up (and scale-down) in response to the load on hosted applications. Roger explains how Windows Azure's data center architecture groups computing and storage hardware into Upgrade and Failure domains so that operating system modifications can be applied and failed hardware substituted without hosted application downtime. Chapter 3 covers Azure's operating system and hypervisor that's based on a modified version of Windows Server 2008, as well as the lifecycle of an Azure application and how Azure implements multi-tenancy, a requirement for economical cloud computing. I found this background helped me understand Chapter 4's description of how and why Windows Azure's basic data store uses highly scalable, RESTful entity-attribute-value (EAV) tables rather than relational tables, and containers of individually addressable binary large objects (blobs) instead of a conventional, hierarchical file system.
Chapter 4's sample applications showed me how to write C# code for VS 2008's templated ASP.NET Worker Roles to manipulate tables and blobs as .NET 3.5 objects. This requires a reference to the Windows Azure SDK's StorageClient library, which enables using the on-premises framework provided by the Development Fabric and Storage features, as well as the production infrastructure. Creating accounts with the Windows Azure Developer Portal for testing cloud storage with local Worker Roles and deploying the finished project to a production data center followed. The Developer Portal has changed since Azure moved from free CTP to paid status on January 4, 2010, but Roger's December and January blog posts (announced in the publisher's online forum for the book) describe the differences in detail.
Security is the chief concern of CIOs and CISOs when considering cloud data storage and compute operations for confidential information. Part II has chapters that describe how to use HTTPS for encryption in transmission and write code with the .NET System.Cryptography namespace and AES for storage encryption. Chapter 5 also covers Azure's SAS 70 and ISO/IEC 27001:2005 audits and certificates. Chapter 6 takes you through the process of implementing ASP.NET authentication and role management for Azure Worker roles. Chapter 7 explains how to make Azure tables more scalable, use entity group transactions and display table data in grids. Chapter 8 introduces you to Worker Roles and Azure queues. Part III covers what were .NET Services when the book was written but morphed to the Azure AppFabric last November. The publisher (Wrox) promises that online updates will cover new Access Control System (ACS) and Service Bus features.
The change from SQL Server Data Services, which delivered EAV tables from SQL Server, to the relational SQL Azure service occurred after Roger wrote the book, so Chapters 12 and 13 about the initial SQL Azure implementation were made available online in *.doc format. According to Roger's blog, these chapters will updated to PDF files based on the January 2010 production version in February.
Windows Azure and SQL Azure were a moving target when Roger wrote the book, but I found the storage-based applications worked for me after downloading updated code from the book's website. Amazon shows books about Azure from O'Reilly and Manning, which cover the released version, won't be available until May or late July 2010. Roger's book gave me a jumpstart at programming Azure apps and eased adoption of post-production features. I recommend this book highly.
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