“Windows Azure is an open cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters.You can build applications using any language, tool or framework.”
-WindowsAzure.com December 2011
A Comprehensive Guide to Moving Your ASP.NET Skills to the Cloud
As a web developer, the technology you are working with is always changing. Frameworks, standards and tools constantly evolve and emerge. With so many sources of change, it’s often hard for developers to keep up. This is particularly true as the industry shifts from traditional on-premise and hosting environments to the new emerging public and private cloud platforms.
Windows Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud platform and for ASP.NET developers there has never been a better time to try it. With a trial account, you can host an ASP.NET website 24×7 for 90-days free of charge! Better yet, if you are an MSDN Subscriber, you can do the same for the length of your subscription by simply activating your Windows Azure benefits!
To help ASP.NET developers quickly ramp up their skills with Windows Azure, we are starting this “Windows Azure for the ASP.NET Developer Series”. Our goal is to help you find the best information to help you move your skills to the cloud and to uncover the best shortcuts for getting things done.
Who are we? Adam Hoffman, Rachel Appel, and Peter Laudati are Microsoft Developer Evangelists based in the US. We are some of the folks behind the US Cloud Connection blog, connecting developers with Windows Azure.
We’ve worked with our counterparts in the product team and the field to find useful info on the various topic areas from the Windows Azure website, MSDN Library, blogs, or other sources. We’ve added our comments when necessary, and include it here. We will also create new content to cover areas where no one has gone before. This series is intended to be a comprehensive end-to-end guide to ASP.NET development on Windows Azure.
To achieve our goal, we are organizing the content around three stages – “Ready, Set, Go! (and keep going)”. Our initial set of posts will get you ‘Ready’ for Windows Azure by discussing the merits of the cloud, differences between Windows Azure and Windows Server, and getting your workstation ready. From there, we will move on to more advanced topics in the coming weeks, updating this “table of contents” post as new entries are added.
Let’s Get Ready…
Why move my ASP.NET development to the cloud?
Hi, I’m Adam Hoffman, a Microsoft Developer Evangelist based in Chicago. Customers and partners often ask me what the benefits are to moving from on-premise or traditional hosting environments to a cloud based platform like Windows Azure or AWS. If you’re an ASP.NET application developer, you’ll typically find the answer in one or more of these three reasons – Cost, Focus and Capabilities.
To read all about the advantages of moving to the cloud, click here to read my post.
What are the differences between Windows Azure and Windows Server?
Hi, I’m Rachel Appel, a Microsoft Developer Evangelist from Earth’s capital, New York City! I’ve been slinging ASP.NET code since the earliest pre-Beta days of .NET. You can also find me speaking at conferences, blogging, or at my MSDN Magazine column, the Web Development Report. Our customers come to me for answers, and my most recent question is to answer what you, the ASP.NET developer, need to know about Windows Server and Windows Azure.
To read all about the differences between server and cloud, click here to read my post.
How Do I Get Started On My Developer Workstation?
Hi, I’m Peter Laudati, a Microsoft Developer Evangelist based in New Jersey. I work frequently with customers who are just getting started with Windows Azure. Whether you’re looking to build a new ASP.NET application from scratch, or migrate an existing ASP.NET application into Windows Azure, getting started is an easy process. You can even start developing locally without a Windows Azure account! However, be sure to get one, because you will need it eventually to experience all Azure has to offer.
To read all about getting your workstation ready, click here to read my post.
How can I take advantage of special offers?
Hi, I’m Abe Pachikara, and I am elated to join this discussion with Adam, Rachel and Peter. I am the US Public Cloud Initiative lead. In the past 3 years I have seen Windows Azure harnessed to solve a wide array of problems. For example: City of Miami’s 311 solution; American Airlines’ Windows Phone solution that uses cloud based push notifications to avoid spikes to its own IT; or, a personal area of interest, to support NGOs during disaster response like the Joplin tornado mentioned in Adam’s post.
The “cloud” will also add to your own resumes and open up options for solving new and old problems. To help on this front, I continuously push internally at Microsoft to make sure you have as broad an array of tools and resources as is possible to “learn the cloud.” This includes access to an Windows Azure account at no charge to you. There are currently three options:
- 90-Day FREE Trial – Anyone can get access via a 90-day FREE trial account. For more details and a walkthrough of how to obtain the 90-day free trial, see Jim O’Neil’s post: The New, Improved Windows Azure Trial
- MSDN Subscriber Benefits – If you are an MSDN subscriber then you get up to $3,700 of Azure resources annually, at no charge. For more details and a walkthrough of how to activate your MSDN benefits, see Brian Prince’s post: FAQ: Using your MSDN Windows Azure benefits.
- BizSpark Program – If you are a startup that is less than 3 years old, and making less than $1 million annually, then sign up for our BizSpark program, and get $3,700 in annual Windows Azure benefits at no charge.
Also important in all these cases, to give you peace of mind, we have put spending limits in place so that you don’t run over your free resources unless you choose to turn off these limits. This is important as it’s akin to a teenage with a new cell phone trying out texting – a cap would certainly keep “the adults in the room” at ease.
For more details on the Spending Limit, see Jim O’Neil’s post: Windows Azure Trial Account Spending Limit
So try the cloud. Adam, Rachel and Peter have provided thoughtful and thought provoking guidance and exercises to step through. It’s just the tip of another technology iceberg. But just for starters, it will supercharge your ASP.NET Web app, give you an high availability data solution for as little as $5/month, or add features (via a single backend) to apps that run on many device platforms.
Windows Azure for the ASP.NET Developer – Table Of Contents
- Top 7 Concerns of Migrating an ASP.NET Application to Windows Azure
- Windows Azure Storage for the ASP.NET Developer
- Get Started Building Data Driven Apps with Windows Azure and SQL Azure