Thursday, November 13, 2008

Setting Up the Windows Azure Services Platform: An Illustrated Walkthrough

When you’re accepted into the Azure Services Platform, you receive three e-mails, two of which contain invitation codes. Navigating the signup process isn’t exactly intuitive, so following is an illustrated journey through the signup processes Azure Services (SQL Services and .NET Services), as well as Azure Storage and Windows Azure hosted compute services.

Updated 11/13/2008: Windows Azure Services Platform changed to Azure Services Platform per comment by Microsoft’s Ryan Dunn.

Updated 11/11/2008: Added setting up a Hosted Service in addition to the Storage Service (see the end of this post).

Accepting the Microsoft Connect Invitation for the Azure Services Platform

The first message is a !!Do Not Delete!! Invitation Code to Microsoft .NET Services and Microsoft SQL Services message with an Invitation Code from with an XXX-XXXX-XXXX format.

A second Your Invitation Code to Microsoft .NET Services and Microsoft SQL Services is activated! message invites you to sign up for .NET Services and SQL Services at Microsoft Connect (, which leads to the following Azure Services Platform’s New Customers screen (shown partially below; click to display the full 1024x768 page):

A solution is a container for your applications that access .NET Services, SQL Services, or both. Pasting the invitation code and clicking Sign Up opens the Create Solution page:

The name you assign to the solution becomes the UserName and the password that you’re assigned when you click Create Solution becomes your initial password for UserName/Password service authentication.

Click the link under the Provisioning is complete! headline to open the Getting Started page:

Changing the Default Password

You can change the password later in the Azure Services Platform’s Getting Started page by clicking the link to your solution to the right of the excerpt shown above (click the partial screen capture to display the entire page) to open the Manage Solution and Manage Services page:

Note: Clicking any button leads to an overview page for the service.

Click the Solution Credentials link to open the .NET Services Access Control Service page:

Click the Solution Password link to change the password from the default. You can add alternative CardSpace and X.509 certificates as credentials on this page.

Creating a Storage Account in the Azure Developer Portal

The third e-mail message is an Invitation Code to Windows Azure message from with a GUID token to create an Azure Developer Portal Account for a project at Projects provide access to Azure Storage and Compute resources. (You are allowed to create two storage projects in the November CTP.)

Click the New Project link of the Developer Portal’s home page to open the Create a New Service Component page:

Click the Storage Account button to open the Create a ProjectProject Properties page. Type a unique name and optional description of the storage account in the text boxes:

Click Next to open the Create a Project – Storage Account page and type a unique name the project’s storage account:

Click Create to create the project and its storage account and list endpoints for Blob, Queue, and Table storage sevices, as well as a primary and secondary Access keys (128-byte SHA1 hash values) that serve as storage access tokens (passwords):

Creating a Hosted Services Project in the Azure Developer Portal

Return to the Create a New Service Component page and click the Hosted Services button to open the Create a Project – Hosted Service page and type a unique name for the hosted service:

Click Create to open the Hosted Service project page, which displays the 16-character Application ID, auto-assigned domain name, URL for this page, and a Base64-encoded “secret key.”

Save these values in a safe place.

You will return to the preceding page when you publish your application to the hosted service you just created in the Deploying a Service on Windows Azure technical article by Jim Nakashima. You must enter your ApplicationID in the Portal Page of the project’s Properties Sheet when you deploy the project.

Click Learn More to open Live Services’ home page. You need a separate invitation to create Live Services with the Live Services SDK.

This completes your registration for SQL Services, .NET Services, and Azure Storage and Hosted Compute services.

Add the following links to you favorites menu or toolbar:

The Windows Azure SDK includes basic sample projects that demonstrate programming these services.

An Automated Test Harness for SQL Data Services

You can give SQL Data Services a test drive with this SQL Data Services (SDS) Test Harness Updated to the Windows Azure Services Platform that uploads the complete Northwind sample database (original eight tables only) to your SDS project:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for describing that. Only now do I realize that I never received the 3rd email. Instead I was sent the second email twice. Without your walkthrough, how would anyone even know what they are missing?

Anonymous said...

To be clear - there is no "Windows Azure Services Platform (WASP)". You are conflating two different things.

There is the Azure Services Platform. Part of the Azure Services Platform is "Windows Azure" - unfortunately named to be sure. This is the compute and essential services layer at the bottom of the ASP (Azure Services Platform).

Above Windows Azure, we have .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services (and two others that are not talked about yet - Sharepoint and CRM services). Together, all these make up the Azure Services Platform.

Hope that helps

Roger Jennings (--rj) said...


Identifying yourself as a Microsoft representative would give credibility to your comment.

As it stands, I see no reason to change the post's title.


Anonymous said...

That was me and it wasn't an attempt to hide who I am. It was merely a misunderstanding of the commenting engine at blogger that made me anonymous.

Of course, you don't have to believe me - you can keep the title as you like. I am only trying to clarify for you the relationship between the services as I have witnessed some confusion due to the "Azure" name both in a particular service (Windows Azure) as well as the umbrella term (Azure Services Platform).

Roger Jennings (--rj) said...

@ryan dunn

Sorry, Ryan, didn't know it was you. Unfortunately I can't change the title because "Windows" is part of the URL, but I have corrected the term elsewhere with an update.

Also note the name is fixed in the new (and unfinished) post.