Announcing the Windows Azure Companion and More…

This past weekend Vijay Rajagopalan of the Interoperability Team at Microsoft delivered the keynote at OSI Days. As part of his presentation, he announced the release of four projects that may be of interest to PHP developers:

You can read Vijay’s summary of his keynote here. I will walk through the highlights of these releases and point you to a couple of the good tutorials that are already available. Look for more in-depth posts about these releases from me soon.


Windows Azure Companion (beta)

The Windows Azure Companion is a new tool that makes it easy to install and configure PHP and PHP applications on Windows Azure. It is designed for developers and application administrators who want to more efficiently manage the deployment, configuration and execution PHP applications running on the Azure platform. When you get right down to it, Windows Azure Companion is very simple: it is a ready-made administrative website that runs in your Azure account. To get started, you simple download the package and configuration file that define the site here (make sure to download the right VM size for your Azure account ). You will then need to modify the configuration file by adding your Azure storage account name and key (among other information), and you will have to supply the URL of a custom ATOM feed that will define the elements of a Web application can be installed.  I found the directions here to be very easy to follow for getting started (I used the custom ATOM feed provided in the tutorial).

There are already a couple of good tutorials that go into more detail, so I’ll save a more detailed post for another day:


Windows Azure Command-Line Tools for PHP – September 2010 Update

The Windows Azure Command-Line Tools for PHP are a set of tools that allow you to package and deploy PHP applications in Windows Azure. (I wrote a post about doing just this here: Using the Windows Azure Command-Line Tools for PHP.) In this September 2010 update (available here), the tools now support more granularity over the FastCgi handler in the configuration file. This improved control allows you to collapse a Web role and a Worker role into one, saving you money on compute time. Look for a more detailed post on how to do this soon.


Windows Azure SDK for PHP – Version 2.0

The Windows Azure SDK for PHP is a set of tools that allow you to use the Windows Azure Table, Blob, and Queue storage services. (I’ve written several posts about using these tools here: Accessing Windows Azure Table Storage from PHP, Accessing Windows Azure Blob Storage from PHP, Accessing Windows Azure Queues from PHP.) Maarten Balliauw has done a great job in getting version 2.0 (available here) out the door. The improvements in this release include…

  • Enhancements to Shared Key authentication
  • Support for page blobs
  • New naming rules for container, blob, and queue metadata
  • Blob snapshots
  • Blob leases
  • Enhanced control over publicly accessible container and blob resources
  • Anonymous access to the root container
  • Additional options for enumerating containers, blobs, and queues
  • Additional blob properties
  • A DequeueCount property for messages, which indicates how many times a message has been dequeued

Again, look for more detailed posts that describe how to leverage these improvements soon.


Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse – September 2010 Update

The Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse project is an Eclipse plug-in that enables development and deployment of PHP applications for Windows Azure. With the September 2010 update (available here), you can now deploy an application directly to Azure without leaving Eclipse. Support for Windows Azure Diagnostics and Windows Azure Drives has been added as well.


Clearly, I have a lot of work to do in getting my head around all of these releases. One thing I can say now, however, is that it is encouraging to see so much work going into support for PHP on the Windows Azure Platform.



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