Dec 2nd 2010

Planning for Microsoft Cloud Computing Platform

Explore and Gain Insight

Increasingly complex maze of multi-tiered hardware, complex Object Oriented frameworks, middleware and associated tools – with every New Year, developers have faced new frameworks, new technology and an ocean of new APIs. Instead of making the life of application developers easier and reducing the total cost of application ownership, these technologies have done just the opposite.  We are now beginning to understand the expense of the middleware legacy.

Next Generation IT will leverage a new computing platform which makes the development and delivery of applications significantly easier than it is today. This new platform consists of Cloud Computing, Software as a Service and many more. Cloud Computing offers better IT infrastructure and applications that can be accessed globally over the Internet. Furthermore, the user needs to pay only for the amount of services being used by him. Application on Cloud Computing is a new delivery model which provides flexibility to both the provider and the customers.

Microsoft is one of the major providers of Cloud allowing customers to host their applications. This blog specifically explains the Microsoft Cloud offering, architecture, its major components and benefits to the users.

Cloud Computing

Microsoft provides two flavors of Cloud computing – SQL Azure & Windows Azure.

SQL- Azure

SQL Azure Database is a cloud-based relational database service from Microsoft. SQL Azure provides relational database functionality as a utility service.

This blog compares SQL Azure Database with SQL Server in terms of logical administration versus physical administration, provisioning, Transact-SQL support, data storage, SSIS, along with other features and capabilities. The benefits of using SQL Azure are manifold. These include manageability, high availability, scalability, a familiar development model, and a relational data model.  SQL Azure comes in two editions:

  • SQL Azure Web Edition supports maximum of 1GB data.
  • SQL Azure Business edition supports maximum of 10GB data.

Specifics about SQL Azure

1. SQL Azure is based on SQL Server.

Using SQL Azure is much like using an on-premise version of SQL Server. However, the initial release of SQL Azure offers only a subset of SQL Server’s features. SQL Azure will provide basic relational database capabilities but initially won’t offer BI functionality such as Analysis Services or Reporting Services.

2. SQL Azure runs on Microsoft Datacenter

Servers hosted in Microsoft’s data centers provide the SQL Azure services. Databases you create on these servers are available globally. However, Microsoft personnel perform the hardware operations and management of your database.

3. SQL Azure supports T-SQL.

SQL Azure supports most T-SQL statements as well as a full range of DML and DDL commands. It doesn’t support commands that affect the underlying hardware, such as the resource governor. SQL Azure also supports most SQL Server data types including bigint, bit, decimal, int, money, numeric, smallint, smallmoney, tinyint and char, varchar, but not the LOB data types and not the newer geo-spatial data types.

4. SQL Azure uses TDS.

Just like on-premise SQL Server, SQL Azure supports client connections using the native SQL Server tabular data stream (TDS). You can create SQL Azure applications using a variety of development tools including Visual Studio, and you can use such middleware as ODBC, OLE DB, ADO.NET, or PHP. SQL Azure uses SQL Server authentication, not Windows.

5. SQL Azure is a service.

SQL Azure can’t access hardware, so you can’t do backup. Instead, you must use a data copy function like BCP. Other things that aren’t available include using sp_configure to change server options, and SQL Profiler.

However, below are the some Unsupported Transact-SQL Features of SQL Azure -

  • Common Language Runtime (CLR)
  • Database file placement
  • Database mirroring
  • Distributed queries
  • Distributed transactions
  • File group management
  • Global temporary tables
  • SQL Server configuration options
  • System tables
  • Trace Flags
  • Profiler is not supported.(For workaround please refer to the next slide.)
  • Analysis Services
  • Replication
  • Reporting Services
  • Service Broker
  • Transaction Support
  • SQL Azure Database does not support distributed transactions.
  • Clustered Index Support
  • SQL Azure does not support tables without clustered indexes.

There are some Connection String considerations also –

  • The SQL Azure Database service is only available with TCP port 1433. Ensure that your firewall allows outgoing TCP communication on TCP port 1433.
  • SQL Azure does not support Windows Authentication. The Trusted Connection will always be set to False.
  • SQL Azure doesn’t support unencrypted connections. You need to specify in your connection string that you want to encrypt the connection.

Windows Azure

Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand computational power and storage to host, scale and manages Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. There are two basic types of offers to choose from while purchasing Windows Azure platform subscription. The first type is Consumption offer. This type requires no commitment – you pay only for what you use. The second type of offer is Commitment offer that provides a significantly discounted level of service in return for a six month commitment to pay a monthly base fee. Any usage in excess of this amount is charged at standard consumption rates. Below is a summary of different plans:

  • Introductory Special – Promotional offer with an amount of Windows Azure Platform services provided each month at no charge. Requires no monthly commitment and is the first plan to choose if you are unsure how much you will use each month. For SQL Azure this offer is only valid for 3 months.
  • Consumption – Flexible “Pay As You Go” plan for all Windows Azure platform services. If you need one or more additional subscriptions that require no monthly commitment, this is the plan for you.
  • MSDN Premium – Promotional offer with a monthly amount of Windows Azure Platform services provided as an added benefit to MSDN premium subscribers. Requires you to be a MSDN Premium subscriber.

Migrating Existing ASP.NET Application to Windows Azure

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista.
  • IIS 7.0 (with ASP.NET, WCF HTTP Activation, Static Content, and optionally CGI).
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2010 Express, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1, or Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition with SP1.

Choose Windows Azure Cloud Service Template

Cloud Service Template

Features of Windows Azure Cloud Service Template

  • Provides the only way to create WebRole or WorkerRole Project to host on cloud.
  • Provides the default dlls for Azure.
  • Holds the information about the incoming request protocol and port for each roles (Web or Worker).
  • Holds and manages the information for the number of instances to create for each role.
  • Specifies whether the role (Web or worker) will use development storage or not.
  • Provides feature to apply full trust or Windows azure partial trust.
  • Helps to create deployment packages.(This is the only way through which we can deploy any application (web or worker role) on Azure environment

For more information/questions on Migrating Application to Microsoft Cloud email to

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