Windows Azure Storage Resources

The following are some key resources to understand and use Windows Azure Storage.

The online MSDN documentation and Forums:

  1. Windows Azure Storage Client Library (Blobs, Drives, Tables, Queues)

  2. Windows Azure Storage REST Protocols (Blobs, Tables and Queues)

  3. Windows Azure Forums

There are 4 recent talks:

  1. Building Applications with Windows Azure Storage at MIX 2010 – This talk provides an overview of Windows Azure Blobs, Drives, Tables and Queues.  It focuses on showing how easy it is to code up these data abstractions using the Windows Azure Storage Client Library, and gives some tips on how to efficiently use them.  The talk also gives a 10 minute demo on using Windows Azure Drives, showing how easy it is to use a VHD on Windows 7, then upload it to a Windows Azure Page Blob, and then mount it for a Windows Azure application to use.

  2. Windows Azure Blob and Drive Deep Dive at PDC 2009 – Provides a deep dive into Windows Azure Blobs and Drives.  The first part of the talk focuses on describing  Block Blocks and Page Blobs, Snapshot Blob, Lease Blob, Root Blobs, using Custom Domain Names, using Shared Access Signatures (Signed URLs), and using the new Windows Azure Content Delivery Network for accessing/caching blobs.  Then the second part of the talk gives an introduction to Windows Azure Drives.  This allows Windows Azure applications to use existing NTFS APIs through a mounted network attached durable drive (a Page Blob formatted as a single volume NTFS VHD).

  3. Windows Azure Tables and Queues Deep Dive at PDC 2009 – Deep dive into key areas for Windows Azure Tables and Queues.    This includes how to choose partitioning keys and what makes for fast and efficient queries for Tables.  For Queues, Jai describes some future features we will be providing such as (a) removing the time limit for how long a message can stay in the queue, (b) removing the time limit for how long the invisibility time can be, and (c) allowing you to change the invisibility time of a dequeued message at anytime.

  4. Building Scalable and Reliable Applications with Windows Azure at PDC 2009 – This talk describes the design target for scalability of Windows Azure Storage.  It focuses on the target throughputs for storage accounts, Blobs, Tables and Queues, describes at a high level the partitioning we use for them, and how we automatically load balance them to meet their peak traffic demands.   It also describes how to use Queues to create scalable and reliable workflow for your computation.  Finally, the talk describes how to use rolling upgrades to perform a schema change (add a new property) for Windows Azure Tables.

Optimize the usage of Windows Azure Tables:

If you want the best performance out of Windows Azure Tables, please make sure to follow the tips here: .NET and WCF (ADO.NET) Data Service Performance Tips for Windows Azure Tables.

Then there are a few Technical Papers to provide more details:

  1. Windows Azure Drives

  2. Windows Azure Tables – Provides some guidelines and examples for choosing the PartitionKey for Tables and an example of storing different entity types in the same table.

  3. Windows Azure Blobs – Provides an overview of Block Blobs (needs to be updated for Page Blobs and the new functionality provided at PDC).

  4. Windows Azure Queues 

Here are additional walkthroughs for storage:

  1. Cloudy in Seattle Windows Azure Table Walkthrough

  2. Cloudy in Seattle Windows Azure Blob Walkthrough

Brad Calder
Windows Azure Storage

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