Windows Azure Learning Plan: Getting Started

Now that you’ve built your Windows Azure Development Environment, you might ask: what’s next?

If you’re new to Windows Azure and keen to get started on the right foot, your next step is to get some hands-on experience developing and deploying on the platform, and the Windows Azure Training Kit is here to help. In it, you’ll find a rich set of documentation, information and to my point: Hands-on Labs. So once you install the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit .. what’s first?

The WATK installs in the C:\WATK folder by default and creates a desktop default.htm icon. Double-clicking on the icon will open the home page with the links to the documents and labs.

So. Let’s get started:

  • Virtually all coding projects have a “hello world” application, and the WATK is no exception. If you’re new to Visual Studio 2010 as well as Windows Azure, start with “Introduction to Windows Azure”. In it, you’ll explore basic elements of a Windows Azure application.
  • Next, spin through “Building ASP.NET Applications with Windows Azure“, which has examples of MVC and Web Form applications.
  • Once your site is built, how do you get it into the cloud? The WATK provides a lab for this, called “Deploying Applications in Windows Azure”. In it, you’ll see how to deploy an ASP.NET MVC application three different ways.
  • Web sites and web applications hosted in Windows Azure are a little different than sites hosted on physical servers, in that local binary storage may not be attached to a physical drive (unless you include it in your project, which isn’t always practical if you have large, static binary assets). Windows Azure uses three types of storage: blobs, tables and queues, with which you can master in the “Exploring Windows Azure Storage” lab. Blobs are for binary data, tables are for structured (but not relational) data (rows and columns) and queues support application elasticity by providing a place to collect messages (transactions) quickly in times of high load.
  • Many sites are data-driven, and Windows Azure supports this with SQL Azure: database services in the cloud. To help you learn about SQL Azure, the WATK has a lab: “Introduction to SQL Azure”. Want to go deeper? You can, with the “SQL Azure Tips and Tricks” lab.
  • One of the keys to working with data in SQL Azure is getting data into SQL Azure. There are several ways to do this (although some may seem non-conventional at the start). For this you can review the “Migrating Databases to SQL Azure” lab.
    A little midnight oil, a little sweat equity, and you’ll be well on your way to the Cloud!
    I’ll see you there.

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

One Response to Windows Azure Learning Plan: Getting Started

  1. Pingback: Windows Azure and Parallel Computing (HPC) « OpsanBlog

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