Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 12/1/2010+

A compendium of Windows Azure, Windows Azure Platform Appliance, SQL Azure Database, AppFabric and other cloud-computing articles.

Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles in the following sections:

To use the above links, first click the post’s title to display the single article you want to navigate.

Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform published 9/21/2009. Order today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (in stock.)

Read the detailed TOC here (PDF) and download the sample code here.

Discuss the book on its WROX P2P Forum.

See a short-form TOC, get links to live Azure sample projects, and read a detailed TOC of electronic-only chapters 12 and 13 here.

Wrox’s Web site manager posted on 9/29/2009 a lengthy excerpt from Chapter 4, “Scaling Azure Table and Blob Storage” here.

You can now freely download by FTP and save the following two online-only PDF chapters of Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform, which have been updated for SQL Azure’s January 4, 2010 commercial release:

  • Chapter 12: “Managing SQL Azure Accounts and Databases”
  • Chapter 13: “Exploiting SQL Azure Database's Relational Features”

HTTP downloads of the two chapters are available for download at no charge from the book's Code Download page.

Tip: If you encounter articles from MSDN or TechNet blogs that are missing screen shots or other images, click the empty frame to generate an HTTP 404 (Not Found) error, and then click the back button to load the image.

Azure Blob, Drive, Table and Queue Services

imageNo significant articles today.

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SQL Azure Database and Reporting

Lauren Crawford announced on 12/1/2010 that she published Sync Framework Tips and Troubleshooting on TechNet Wiki:

image I've started an article on the Technet Wiki that collects usage tips and troubleshooting for Sync Framework. This can be the first place you look when you have a nagging question that isn't answered anywhere else.

imageSome tips already collected are recommendations about how to speed up initialization of multiple SQL Server Compact databases, how to find the list of scopes currently provisioned to a database, and how to improve the performance of large replicas for file synchronization.

It's a wiki, so you can add to it! If the answer you need isn't in the article, or if you have more to say about a tip that's already in the article, post what you know. By sharing our knowledge, we can all make Sync Framework even more useful for everyone.

Check out the article, and share your tips:!

Lori MacVittie (@lmacvittie) asserted It is the database tier and its unique characteristics that ultimate determine where an application will be deployed as a preface to her The Database Tier is Not Elastic post of 12/1/2010 to F5’s DevCentral blog:

image Cloud computing is mostly about “elasticity.” The extraction and contraction of resources based on demand. It is the contraction of resources which is oft times forgotten but without it, cloud computing and highly dynamic, virtualized infrastructures are little more than seamless capacity growth engines. For web and application architectural tiers, the contraction of resources is as much a requirement to realize the benefits of shared, dynamic capacity as the ability to rapidly expand. But in the database tier, the application data layer, contraction is more a contradiction than anything else.


imageElasticity in applications is a good thing. It is important to the overall success rate of cloud computing and dynamic infrastructure initiatives to remember that “what comes up, must come down” – especially in relation to provisioned compute resources. Applications should expand their resource consumption to meet demand, but when demand wanes, so too should their resource consumption rates. By spreading compute resources around the various applications that need  them in a dynamic way, based on demand, we achieve peak efficiency and make the most of our capital expenditures. Such architectural approaches allow us to allocate “temporary” compute resources when necessary from cloud computing environments external to the organization, and release them when not necessary.

This is all well and good, except when we’re talking about the database.

Databases employ a number of techniques by which they can improve their performance, and most of them involve complex caching and pooling strategies that make use of lots and lots of RAM. At the database tier, RAM may increase, but it rarely decreases. It’s a different kind of workload than web and application servers, which can easily be scaled out using parallel processing strategies. Many, many copies of the same code can execute in isolated chunks around the data center because they do not need access to a centralized store of information about all the sessions that may be occurring at the same time. In order to maintain consistency, databases use indexes and locks and other computational techniques to manage access to data, especially in the case of modification. This means that even though the code to perform such tasks can be ostensibly executed on multiple copies of a database, the especial data required to ensure consistent operations is contained in a single, contiguous data structure. That data cannot be easily transferred or replicated in real-time to other copies. There is a single data overlord that must maintain a holistic view of the data and therefore must (today) run on a single machine (virtual or iron).

That means all access is through a single gateway, and scaling that gateway is generally only possible through the expansion of resources available to the database application. Scale up is the traditional strategy, and until we learn how to share memory blocks across the network in a way that assures consistency we can either bow to the belief that eventual consistency is good enough or that there will be one, ginormous system that continually expands along with data growth. 


imageIt is the unique characteristics of data that result in a quirky architecture that allows us to scale out read but only scale up write. This makes the database tier a lot more complex than perhaps it once was. In the past, a single ginormous server housed a database and it was the only path to data. Today, however, the need for better performance and support for hyperscaling of applications has led to a functional partitioning scheme that separates reads from writes and assumes that eventual consistency is better than non-availability.

This does not mean it’s impossible to put a database into an external cloud computing environment. It just means that it’s going to run, 24x7, and scalability cannot necessarily be achieved by scaling out – the traditional means by which a cloud computing environment enables scale. It means that scaling up will require migration, if you haven’t adjusted for future growth to begin with, and that there may be, depending on the cloud computing environment you choose, an upper bounds to your data growth. If you’ve only got X amount of disk and memory available, at some point your database will hit that upper bound and either it will begin to drag down performance or availability or simply be unable to continue growing.

Or you’ll need to consider the use of distributed database systems which can scale out by distributing data across multiple database nodes (local or remote) either using replication or duplication. When used over a LAN – low latency, high performing, high bandwidth – the replication and/or duplication required for the master database to manage and maintain its minion databases can be successful. One would assume, then, that the use of distributed database systems in a cloud computing environment would be the appropriate marriage of the two architectural approaches to scalability. However, most enterprise applications existing today – both developed in-house and packaged – do not take advantage of such technology and there exist no standardized means by which a traditional DBMS can be morphed into a DDBMS.

Additionally, the replication/duplication of database systems over a WAN – high latency, lower performing, low bandwidth – is problematic for maintaining consistency. Which often means a closed-system, LAN connected only approach to application architecture is the only feasible option.

Which puts us right back where we were – with the database tier being upward-bound only, not elastic, and potentially outgrowing the ability of a provider to offer an appropriate level of compute resources to maintain performance and capacity, effectively limiting data growth.

Which is not a good thing, because limiting data growth means limiting business growth.


It is almost universally true that the growth of data is an indicator of business success. As business grows, so does the customer data. As business grows, so does the user-generated content. As business grows, so do the financial and employee records and e-mail. And, of course, the gigabytes of Power Point presentations and standard operating procedure documents that grow, morph, and are ultimately discarded – but maintained for posterity/reference in the future grow along with the business.

Data grows, it doesn’t shrink. There is nothing that so accurately lives up to the “pack rat” mentality as a business. And much of it is stored in databases, which live in the data tier and are increasingly web (and mobile client) enabled.

So when we talk about elastic applications we’re really talking just about the applications, not necessarily the data tier. Unless you have employed a sharded architectural approach to enabling long-term growth, you have “THE database” and it’s going to grow and grow and grow and never shrink. It isn’t elastic; the parts of an application that are are the applications that access THE database.

It is this “nut” that needs to be cracked for cloud computing to truly become “the” standard for data center architectures. Until we either see DDBMS become the standard for database systems or figure out how to really share compute resources across the LAN such that RAM from multiple machines appears to be a contiguous, locally accessible chunk of memory, the database tier will be the limiting – and deciding – factor in determining how an application is architected and where it might end up residing.

Noel Yuhanna [pictured below], Mike Gilpin and Adam Knoll wrote SQL Azure Raises The Bar On Cloud Databases: Ease Of Use, Integration, Reliability, And Low Cost Make It A Compelling Solution, which was published as a Forrester Research white paper on 11/2/2010 (missed when posted):

Executive Summary
image Over the past six months, Forrester interviewed 26 companies using Microsoft SQL Azure to find out about their implementations. Most customers stated that SQL Azure delivers a reliable cloud database platform to support various small to moderately sized applications as well as other data management requirements such as backup, disaster recovery, testing, and collaboration. Unlike other DBMS vendors such as IBM, Oracle, and Sybase that offer public cloud database largely using the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) platform, Microsoft SQL Azure is unique because of its multitenant architecture, which allows it to offer greater economies of scale and increased ease of use. Although SQL Azure currently has a 50 GB database size limit (which might increase in the near future), a few companies are already using data sharding with SQL Azure to scale their databases into hundreds of gigabytes.

imageApplication developers and database administrators seeking a cloud database will find that SQL Azure offers a reliable and cost-effective platform to build and deploy small to moderately sized applications.

Table of Contents

  • Microsoft SQL Azure Takes A Leading Position Among Cloud Databases
  • Microsoft’s Enhancements To SQL Azure Give It Key Advantages
  • SQL Azure Has Limitations That Microsoft Will Probably Address
  • Other Database Vendors Currently Offer Only Basic Public Cloud Database Implementations
  • Case Studies Show That SQL Azure Is Ready For Enterprise Use
  • Case Study: TicketDirect Handles Peak Loads With A Cost-Effective SQL Azure Solution
  • Case Study: Kelley Blue Book Leverages SQL Azure In A Big Way
  • Case Study: Large Financial Services Company Uses SQL Azure For Collaboration

SQL Azure Offers A Viable Cloud Database
Platform To Support Most App

The white paper reads like Microsoft-sponsored research, but I see no indication of sponsorship in the PDF file.

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Dataplace DataMarket and OData

Jon Galloway (@jongalloway) posted Okay, WCF, we can be friends now on 12/1/2010:

image Over the years, I've had a tough time with Windows Communication Foundation, otherwise know as (and sometimes cursed as) WCF. I knew it was what I was "supposed" to be using to because it handled complex scenarios like managing access as secured messages passed through systems and users with different access rights. However, it didn't seem to be able to handle my simple scenarios – things like returning very simple, unrestricted information from a server to a client – without requiring hours of pain, configuration, and things like writing a custom ServiceHostFactory.

I understand the idea of WCF – it’s an entire API that’s designed to allow for just about anything you might want to do in a SOA scenario, and it offers a pretty big abstraction over the transport mechanism so you can swap out SOAP over HTTP to Binary over TCP with a few well-placed config settings, and you can theoretically do it without caring about the transport or wire format.

So, I guess my thoughts on WCF up until very recently can be summed up as follows:

  • I knew it did a lot of neat, advanced things that I never seemed to need to do
  • WCF configuration always seemed to be a problem for me in rather simple use, e.g. hosting a basic, unauthenticated WCF service in an MVC application on shared hosting
  • My co-workers got sick of trying to explain to me why I shouldn’t just use an ASMX service

All that’s changing, though. There have been two new developments in WCF-land that have broken down the walls I’d built around my heart:

Favorite new features in WCF Web API’s

imageFocus: First, the overall focus on HTTP as a good thing, not something to be abstracted away. There can be value in a variety of approaches, and those values can shift over time. WCF’s original design seemed to be oriented towards letting coders write code without worrying about the transport protocol. That can be useful in cases, but the fact is that HTTP contains some great features that we’ve been ignoring. This seems a little similar to the difference in approaches between ASP.NET Web Forms / ASP.NET MVC. In some cases an abstraction can help you be more productive by handling insignificant details for you, but in other cases those details are significant and important.

And I think the variety in focus is a good thing. Different software challenges call for different tools. For instance, looking at the WCF offerings:

  • WCF Data Services is a great way to expose data in a raw format which is queryable and accessible in a great, standards friendly format (OData)
  • WCF RIA Services solves some common client-server communication issues, such as keeping business logic in sync on both client and server through some pretty slick cross-compilation
  • [more WCF options here – IANAWE (I am not a WCF Expert)]
  • Now, WCF Web API’s provide an option for writing pure, RESTful services and service clients that work close to the HTTP level with minimal friction

Pipeline: Rather than stack piles of attributes on your service methods or write a ton of configuration, you can surgically process the input and output using lightweight processors. For instance, you can create a processor that displays information for a specific media type, like JSON or an image format like PNG. What’s really powerful here is that these processors can be associated with a media type, so they’re automatically returned to clients of your service based on what media types they prefer, as stated in the Accept header.

More on that in the next post, where I talk about using the Speech API to create a SpeechProcessor that responds to clients which accept audio/x-wav.

Queryable services: Glenn’s announcement post shows the promise here – you can simply  annotate a service with the [QueryComposition] which will allow clients to query over a service’s results. Glenn’s post shows how this works pretty well, so I’m just quoting it here. First, a service is marked as queryable:


Now we can query over the results on the client. For instance, if we wanted to get all contacts in Florida, we could use a request like "http://localhost:8081/contacts?$filter=State%20eq%20FL" which says "find me the contact with a State equal to FL".

Client-side Features

There are some great client-side features which mirror new features on the server-side. For instance, once your services are exposed as queryable, there’s client-side support for query via LINQ. There’s support via HttpRequestMessage and HttpResponseMessage to the HTTP values on the client as well as on the server.

The new HttpClient provides a client which was built with the same philosophy and API support on the client to match what’s on the server. I’ll plan to look at HttpClient first when I need to query services from .NET code.

WCF jQuery Support

There’s some interesting work in progress to build out support for writing services which are accessible from jQuery. While I’d probably use ASP.NET MVC’s JSON support for simple cases, if I needed to build out a full API which exposed services over AJAX, this looks really useful.


The jQuery support gets even more interesting with new support for JsonValue. Tomek spells it out in a great post covering WCF support for jQuery, but I think broad support for JsonValue in the .NET Framework deserves some individual attention because it enables some really slick things like LINQ to JSON:


Where to go next

There’s a lot to the new WCF Web API’s, and I’m only scratching the surface in this overview. Check out my next post to see a sample processor, and take a look at the list of posts listed in the News section at for more info.

Some top resources:

Jon’s conclusion reflects mine.

Abishek reported a Problem Accessing Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta services from BCS in Sharepoint 2010 in a 12/1/2010 post:

imageDynamics 2011 Beta exposes a new oData based service which can be used to pull data out from the system. I am working on BCS for Sharepoint 2010 for a simple demo and i decided to use this service to pull data from CRM 2011 beta system.

image After setting the reference i tried to use the DataContext object to pull data out and got an exception which said: "Request version '1.0' is too low for the response. The lowest supported version is '2.0'."

On digging a little deep i realized that some header mismatch is happening between the oData service and my client.

MSDN social says that in order to change this header from 1.0 to 2.0 i need to target my assemblies to compile and run against .NET 4.0. To my utter surprise Sharepoint 2010 runtime can't load the assemblies which are targeted for 4.0 and hence i had to fall back on using the old way of accessing data from CRM which is using CRM data service. That's bad news as this means i will have to write lot of code which i could have done without.

The good thing though is that i will learn the old way of accessing data from the system. Will try to post some code samples.....

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Windows Azure AppFabric: Access Control and Service Bus

David Kearns asserted Identity services are key to new applications in a 12/1/2010 post to NetworkWorld’s Infrastructure Management blog:

image More often than not, when I’m writing the monthly “here’s what we were talking about ten years ago” edition of the newsletter I’m tempted to lead with the French proverb “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,” which means the more things change the more they stay the same. Happily (at least for the sake of variety) that’s not true for this issue.

Here’s what I wrote in November, 2000:

image “Is it time to stop talking about the directory? You know it, I know it: mention directory services and line-of-business execs glaze over within two minutes. To them a directory is the telephone white pages, and that's just not very sexy in this whiz-bang, dot-com, sock-puppet, bingo-bango marketplace that's today's business.

“So what do you do? You don't mention the directory, that's what. You talk about security and authentication. You talk about CRM and value chains. Slide in a touch of digital persona. Above all, talk about applications and services - what you're selling and how you sell it.

“It doesn't matter if it’s a client or your boss you[‘re] talking to, you still need to sell and its easier, as any old-line salesman will tell you, to sell sizzle than it is to sell steak.”

One think has dramatically changed since then, and it’s that the IT department is no longer the leader when it comes to bringing in new applications and services. It’s marketing, sales, finance and even HR that is clamoring for new apps, especially when it comes to cloud-based services. More than ever, IT needs to talk about the importance of identity services (represented by the directory in our discussions 10 years ago) to make those new apps viable, efficient and secure.

Of course, one thing really hasn’t changed – the business folk still glaze over when we bring up identity services. So it’s imperative that IT people be on the cutting edge of new service offerings, and partner with the line-of-business innovators so that they can have input into the strategic architecture of the new services, the “plumbing,” so to speak. Because an example I used in 2000 still works:

“Take a look at the Delta Faucet website. Notice their catchphrase? "Style. Innovation. Beauty…that lasts." Its not the PVC (or even the copper) pipe they're talking about, but those beautiful fixtures. But if you buy the fixtures (because they'll last, or just because they're sexy) you also need to have the PVC or copper tubing in place to carry the water to the fixture.”

It’s the same with identity services - sell the sexy parts and the plumbing gets taken along for the ride.

The Windows Azure AppFabric Team reported on 11/30/2010 the availability of Wade Wegner’s Sample on using SAML CredentialType to Authenticate to the Service Bus code:

To answer a popular request we’ve been getting from our customers, Wade Wegner our AppFabric evangelist has written a blog post that explains how to use the SAML CredentialType to Authenticate to the Service Bus.

image722322Read Wade’s blog post to learn more on this topic: Using the SAML CredentialType to Authenticate to the Service Bus.

If you have other AppFabric related requests please visit our Windows Azure AppFabric Feature Voting Forum.

See Wade Wegner explained Using the SAML CredentialType to Authenticate to the Service Bus in Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 11/24/2010.

Nuno Filipe Godinho posted his abbreviated Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus Future – PDC10 Session Review on 11/30/2010:

Clemens Vasters – Principal Technical Lead @ Windows Azure Team

Service Bus Today

  • Naming fabric or Structure that sits out on the internet that provides us to create a namespace
  • When we create a namespace for the service bus, Microsoft provisions a tenant in a multi-tenant value fabric for us, where we can create endpoints, message buffers, and communicate through those.
  • Around this routing fabric we have several nodes where we connect and that’s is where the fabric is being used.
  • Use Case Samples:
    • Message Queues: Wherever you need some application queue
      • Airline that is using this to check-in and synchronize devices using this
    • Outside Services: Whenever you need to provide a public facing service, but your internal service
    • MultiCast (Eventing)
    • Direct Connect (Bridge two environments through Firewalls and NAT.

A look into the Future

  • Service Bus Capability Scope
    • Connectivity (currently in the CTP)
      • Service Relay
      • Protocol Tunnel
      • Eventing
      • Push
    • Messaging (currently in the CTP)
      • Queuing
      • Pub/Sub
      • Reliable Transfer
    • Service Management
      • Naming
      • Discovery
      • Monitoring
    • Orchestration (Workflow)
      • Routing
      • Coordination
      • Transformation
  • Service Bus October 2010 Labs (labs release not parity with production services)
    • New and Improved
      • Load Balancing
        • I need to be able to take multiple listeners and host them on Service Bus and have load balancing on them
        • This is not possible on the production environment, and in the Labs we have a new protocol called AnyCast to provide this.
      • Richer Management
      • Durable Message Buffers
        • We want to be more queues and less about message buffers
    • In this October 2010 Labs Release we don’t have:
      • HttpListeners
      • Capabilities in the Service Registry
      • Missing some composition capabilities
      • Missing all the bindings
    • The purpose is to gather feedback about this new protocol
  • Durable Message Buffers
    • image Same Lightweight REST protocol
    • Long pooling support
    • Future Releases
      • Reliable Transfer protocol options
      • Higher throughput transport options
      • Volatile buffers for higher throughput
    • Currently the same protocol backed up with a REAL Queuing system that is reliable and capacity.

  • Listener Load Balancing
    • Connection point management separate from listener
      • Explicit Management of service bus connection points to the service bus
      • We gain the ability to know if someone is listening or not.
    • Multiple listeners can share the same connection point
    • Load balancing and no single point of failure
    • Sticky sessions
  • Session Multiplexing
    • One socket per listener
    • Optimized for short sessions, and short messages
      • The latency for setting up that session is now very short
    • No extra round-trip to set up a session
    • Note: The purpose is to reduce latency

  • Explicit Streaming Support (Default model in production Today)
    • One socket per client
    • Optimized for long sessions, streaming and very large messages
    • Lightweight handshake, mostly ‘naked’ end-to-end socket afterwards
    • Note: This will be made available later into the Labs

  • Protocols
    • Currently allowed
      • NMF (net.tcp)
      • Http(S)
    • Currently thought
      • FTP
      • SMTP
      • SMS
      • Other
        • Candidate Example of those:  XMPP, … (not planned but thought as possible candidates)

  • Messaging
    • Reliable, transacted, end-to-end message, transfer of message sequences
    • Local Transactions
    • Batches are transferred completely or not at all

  • Service Bus Pub/Sub – Topics
    • Service Bus Topics
      • Think of as a message log with multiple subscriptions
    • Durable message sequences for multiple readers with per-subscription cursors
    • Pull Model consumption using messaging protocols
    • Service Bus manages subscription state

  • Service Bus Pub/Sub – Eventing
    • Service Bus Events
      • We already have it with neteventrelaybinding
    • Multicast event distribution
    • Push delivery via outbound push or connectivity listeners
    • Same subscription and filter model as topics
    • Considering UDP for (potentially lossy) ultra-low latency delivery

  • Service Bus Push Notifications
    • Distribution points allow for push delivery to a variety of targets
    • Built on top of pub/sub topic infrastructure
    • Protocol adapters for HTTP, NET/TCP, SMS, SMTP, …
    • Subscription-level AuthN and reference headers

  • Monitoring
    • Monitor of Service Bus state
    • System events exposed as topics with pull and push delivery
    • Events can flow into store for analytics
    • Ad-Hoc queries into existing resources and their state

  • Discovery
    • Discovery of Service Bus resources and resource instances
    • Eventing and query mechanisms similar to monitoring
    • Service Presence
    • Custom Taxonomies

What can you do know. Use AppFabric Service Bus Labs

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Windows Azure Virtual Network, Connect, and CDN

imageNo significant articles today.

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Live Windows Azure Apps, APIs, Tools and Test Harnesses

Neil MacKenzie described Configuration Changes to Windows Azure Diagnostics in Azure SDK v1.3 in a 12/1/2010 post:

The configuration of Windows Azure Diagnostics (WAD) was changed in the Windows Azure SDK v1.3 release. This post is a follow-on to three earlier posts on Windows Azure Diagnostics – overview, custom diagnostics and diagnostics management – and describes how WAD configuration is affected by the Azure SDK v1.3 changes.

WAD is implemented using the pluggable-module technique introduced to support VM Roles. The idea with pluggable modules is that various Azure features are represented as modules and these modules can be imported into a role. Other features implemented in this way include Azure Connect and Remote Desktop.

Service Definition and Service Configuration for WAD

WAD is added to a role by adding the following to the role definition in the Service Definition file:

  <Import moduleName=”Diagnostics” />

The Azure Diagnostics service needs to be configured with a storage account where it can persist the diagnostic information it captures and stores locally in the instance. This has traditionally been done using an ad-hoc Service Configuration setting typically named DiagnosticsConnectionString. The pluggable Diagnostics module expects the storage account to be provided in a configuration setting with a specific name:


Note that this setting does not need to be defined in the Service Definition file – its need is inferred from the Diagnostics module import specified in the Service Definition file. The following is a fragment of a Service Configuration file with this setting:

<Role name=”WebRole1″>
    <Instances count=”2″ />
          name = “Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Diagnostics.ConnectionString”
          value=”UseDevelopmentStorage=true” />

Configuring WAD in Code

After the Diagnostics module is added to a role, the Azure Diagnostics service is started automatically using the default configuration. There is no longer a need to use DiagnosticMonitor.Start() to start the Azure Diagnostics service. However, in a somewhat counter-intuitive manner, this method can still be used to modify the default configuration just as before. This is presumably to ensure that existing code works with only configuration changes.

A more logical way to change the WAD configuration is to use RoleInstanceDiagnosticManager.GetCurrentConfiguration() to retrieve the current configuration and then use RoleInstanceDiagnosticManager.SetCurrentConfiguration() to update the configuration. There is a new element, <IsDefault>, in the wad-control-container blob containing the WAD configuration for an instance which is true when the default configuration is being used.

The following is an example of this technique:

private void ConfigureDiagnostics()
    String wadConnectionString =

    CloudStorageAccount cloudStorageAccount =

    DeploymentDiagnosticManager deploymentDiagnosticManager =
        new DeploymentDiagnosticManager(cloudStorageAccount,
    RoleInstanceDiagnosticManager roleInstanceDiagnosticManager =
    DiagnosticMonitorConfiguration diagnosticMonitorConfiguration =

    diagnosticMonitorConfiguration.Directories.ScheduledTransferPeriod =

    diagnosticMonitorConfiguration.Logs.ScheduledTransferPeriod =

    diagnosticMonitorConfiguration.WindowsEventLog.ScheduledTransferPeriod =

    PerformanceCounterConfiguration performanceCounterConfiguration = new
    performanceCounterConfiguration.CounterSpecifier =
       @”\Processor(_Total)\% Processor Time”;
    performanceCounterConfiguration.SampleRate =
    diagnosticMonitorConfiguration.PerformanceCounters.ScheduledTransferPeriod =


I’ll update my current diagnostics test harness and see if there’s any difference in reported data.

Brent Stineman (@BrentCodeMonkey) briefly reviewed The Great Azure Update – 1.3, November 2010 and described a couple of gotchas in an 11/30/2010 post:

image Well here we are with the single biggest release for Windows Azure since it became available earlier this year. Little about this update is a surprise as everyone was covered in depth at PDC10 back in October. But as of yesterday we have the new 1.3 SDK and associated training kit. We also got an updated Windows Azure Management Portal. I won’t be diving deeply into any of these for the moment, the Windows Azure team has their post up on it and is doing a webcast tomorrow. So it seems unnecessary.

imageWhat I do want to do today is call out a couple things that the community at large has brought to light about the updates.

Wade Wegner, Microsoft’s Technical Evangelist for the Windows Azure AppFabric has invested a non-trivial amount of time updating the BidNow sample used at PDC for the latest release. I have it on good authority, that this is something Wade was really passionate about doing and excited to finally be able to share with the world.

The Azure Storage team has a blog post that outlines fixes, bugs, and breaking changes in the Azure 1.3 SDK.

The 1.3 Azure SDK is only for VS 2010 and will automatically update any cloud service solution you open once its been loaded. Additionally, all the new 1.3 features can not be used by deployed services until they are rebuilt using the new SDK and redeployed. This includes features like the remote desktop.

The new management portal includes enhanced functionality for managing Windows Azure and SQL Azure services. However, as yet there is no updated portal for the Azure AppFabric. Hopefully this will come soon. Additionally, if you’re using IE9, be sure to enable pop-ups when at the portal or you won’t be able to launch the SQL Azure Management Portal (previously known as project “Houston”). [Emphasis added.]

The new portal, being a web app, takes a few moments to get your head wrapped around. So I put together a quick guide using the following image.


The “Silo” Selection area in the lower left is where we select which set of assets (SQL Azure, Azure AppFabric, Azure Connect, etc…) we want to work with. Once an area has been selected, we can then jump a bit on the left to the Navigation section to move around within our selected silo, switching SQL Azure database servers or moving between Windows Azure services. Once we select an item in the Navigation menu, we can then view it in the large Workspace area. Lastly, across the top is our tool bar or a Context Menu. I prefer the term context menu because the options on this menu and their enabled/disable state will vary depending on your selections in the other areas.

You can switch back and forth between the new and old portals easily. Just look for the links at the top (in the old) or bottom (on the new). This is helpful because not everything in the old portal is in the new one. I was helping a friend with a presentation and noticed the new portal doesn’t have the handy “connection strings” button that was in the old SQL Azure portal.

I can’t wait to start digging into this but unfortunately I’m still preparing for my talk on the Azure AppFabric at next week’s AzureUG.NET user group meeting. So get out there and start playing for me! I’ll catch up as soon as I can.

PS – ok Wade. Can I go to bed now? Winking smile

The Windows Azure Team announced Updated Windows Azure Platform Training Kit Now Available on 11/30/2010:

imageYesterday, we announced availability of the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio release 1.3, as well as several features being rolled out as a beta or CTP.  To help you better understand how to use these new features and enhancements, as well as those announced at PDC10 earlier this month, a new version of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit is now available for free download. This release of the training kit includes several new hands-on labs (HOLs) that focus on the latest Windows Azure features and enhancements. 

Updates include:

  • Advanced Web and Worker Role - explains how to use admin mode and startup tasks
  • Connecting Cloud Apps to on-premises resources with Windows Azure Connect
  • Virtual Machine Role - describes how to get started with VM Role by creating and deploying a VHD
  • Windows Azure CDN - a simple introduction to the CDN
  • Introduction to the Windows Azure AppFabric Service Bus Futures - shows how to use the new Service Bus features in the AppFabric labs environment
  • Building Windows Azure Apps with Caching Service - explains how to use the new Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service
  • Introduction to the AppFabric Access Control Service V2 - covers how to build a simple web application that supports multiple identity providers
  • Introduction to Windows Azure - updated to use the new Windows Azure Platform Portal
  • Introduction to SQL Azure - updated to use the new Windows Azure Platform Portal

If you prefer to download selected HOLs without downloading the entire training kit package, you can browse and download all of the available labs here

Morebits explained Using Windows Azure Development Environment Essentials in a 12/1/2010 tutorial posted to MSDN’s Technical Notes blog:

image The Windows Azure development is a simulation environment which enables you to run and debug your applications (services) before deploying them. The development environment provides the following utilities:

  • imageThe development fabric utility. The development fabric is a simulation environment for running your application (service) locally, for testing and debugging it before deploying it to the cloud. The fabric handles the lifecycle of your role instances, as well as providing access to simulated resources such as local storage resources.
  • The development storage utility. It simulates the Blob, Queue, and Table services available in the cloud. If you are building a hosted service that employs storage services or writing any external application that calls storage services, you can test locally against development storage.
  • The Windows Azure SDK also provides a set of utilities for packaging your service for either the development environment or for Windows Azure, and for running your service in the development fabric

For more information see Using the Windows Azure Development Environment.

Development Fabric

Before using the Windows Azure development environment, you must assure that it is activated. Usually this happens when you start debugging your application in Visual studio. You can verify the activation by checking that the related icon exists in the system tray as shown in the following illustration.


Figure 1 Windows Azure Development Environment Icon

Note. Using the CSRun command-line tool starts the development fabric if it is not yet running. You must run this tool as an administrator. For more information see CSRun Command-Line Tool.

You can right-click this icon to display the user interfaces for the development fabric and development storage and to start or shut down these services.

1. Right-click the icon and in the pop-up dialog click Show Development Fabric UI. A development fabric UI window is activated similar to the one shown in the following illustration. The development fabric UI shows your service deployments in an interactive format. You can examine the configuration of a service, its roles, and its role instances. From the UI, you can run, suspend, or restart a service. In this way, you can verify the basic functionality of your service.


Figure 2 Development Fabric UI

2. Right-click the icon and in the pop-up dialog click Show Development Storage UI. A development storage UI window is activated similar to the one shown in the following illustration. You can use the development storage UI to start or stop any of the services, or to reset them. Resetting a service stops the service, cleans all data for that service from the SQL database (including removing any existing blobs, queues, or tables), and restarts the service.


Figure 3 Development Storage UI

Development Storage

The development storage relies on a Microsoft SQL Server instance to simulate the storage servers. By default, the development storage is configured for Microsoft SQL Server Express versions 2005 or 2008. Also development storage uses Windows authentication to connect to the server.

Using the CSRun command-line tool automatically starts development storage. You can also use this command to stop development storage. The first time you run development storage, an initialization process runs to configure the environment. The initialization process creates a database in SQL Server Express and reserves HTTP ports for each local storage service.

Configuring Microsoft SQL Server

You can also configure the development storage to access a local instance of SQL Server different from the default SQL Server Express. You can do that by running the DSInit.exe command-line tool as shown next. Remember you must run this tool as an administrator. For more information see DSInit Tool.

1. In the Windows Azure SDK command prompt execute the following command as shown in the next illustration:

>dsinit /sqlinstance:.


Figure 4 Initializing Development Environment Storage

2. A dialog prompt is displayed similar to the one shown in the next illustration.


Figure 5 Confirming Development Environment Storage Initialization

The initialization process creates a database named DevelopmentStorageDb20090919 in your current SQL Server default instance and reserves HTTP ports for each local storage service.

3. Click OK.

You can view the created database by using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio as shown in the following illustration. The tool can be downloaded from this location: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management Studio Express.


Figure 6 Displaying Development Environment Storage Database

Connecting to Microsoft SQL Server

This section shows you how to connect to your own Microsoft SQL server instance. To do that you need to configure the connection string that development storage can use. The following steps show how to do this.

The first thing you want to do is to obtain the actual connection string to use.

1. Activate Visual Studio as an administrator then select Server Explorer.

2. Right-click Data Connections and then select click Add Connection… as shown in the following illustration.


Figure 7 Creating Development Environment Storage Database Server Connection

3. In the displayed dialog window, in the Server name box enter the name of your SQL server (by default, it is the name of your machine).

4. In the Log on to the server, leave Use Windows Authentication selected. This is the authentication modality used by development storage.

5. In the Connect to a database check Select or enter a database name.

6. In the drop-down list select the development storage database DevelopmentStorageDb20090919. The following illustration is an example of these steps.


Figure 8 Specifying Development Environment Storage Database

7. Click Test Connection. If everything is correct, a successful pop-up dialog is displayed. Click OK.

8. Finally, Click OK in the main dialog window.

A new database connection, similar to the one shown in the following illustration, is created and displayed in Server Explorer.


Figure 9 Development Storage Database Connection

9. Right-click the data connection just created and in the pop-up dialog select Properties.

10. In the Properties window copy the Connection String property value that is similar to this:

Data Source=mmieleLAPTOP;Initial Catalog=DevelopmentStorageDb20090919;Integrated Security=True

Among other things, the string defines the name of the SQL server instance and the development storage database.

Now you need to instruct development storage to use this connection string to connect to the database. You do this by following the next steps.

11. In Visual Studio open the file C:\Program Files\Windows Azure SDK\v1.2\bin\devstore\dsservice.exe.config. Remember that you must activate Visual Studio as an administrator.

12. In the <configuration> element create a <connectionStrings> section.

13. In the section just created enter an <add> element.

14. To the name attribute assign the value DevelopmentStorageDbConnectionString.

15. To the connectionString attribute assign the connection string evaluated in the previous steps.

The following is an example of these connection string settings.

    <add name="DevelopmentStorageDbConnectionString"
         connectionString="Data Source=mmielelaptop;Initial Catalog=DevelopmentStorageDb20090919;Integrated Security=True"
         providerName="System.Data.SqlClient" />

Notice that development storage expects the name attribute to be DevelopmentStorageDbConnectionString.

16. Save and close the file.

You have configured development storage to use your own instance of the SQL server instead of the default SQL Express server.

Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) reported Microsoft starts rolling out test builds of promised Azure cloud add-ons on 12/1/2010:

image At this year’s Professional Developers Conference, the Azure team promised to deliver a slew of new add-ons and services — in either test or final form — before the end of calendar 2010. As of this week, test versions of many of those services are available for download.

image The majority of the promised services and add-ons are available via the new Azure Management Portal; a few others are available via a newly released Azure Tools for Visual Studio software development kit (version 1.3), which Microsoft made available for download earlier this week.

imageThere are still a few services that Microsoft officials said would be available before the end of this year that are not downloadable yet. Those include server application virtualization (due in Community Technology Preview, or CTP, test form), SQL Azure Reporting (due in CTP form), and SQL Azure Data Sync (also due in CTP form). These are still on track for end of year, the Softies said on November 30.

As of this week, public betas are now available for:

  • Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role
  • Extra Small Windows Azure Instance, which is priced at $0.05 per compute hour, to attract developers who need cheaper cloud training and prototyping environment
  • The application section of the Windows Azure Marketplace, a site offering Azure building-block components, premium data sets, training and services

A CTP is now available for:

  • Windows Azure Connect: (formerly Project Sydney), which provides IP-based network connectivity between on-premises and Windows Azure resources

Microsoft is providing an overview Webcast about these new features on December 1 at 9 a.m. PT.

By the way, if you’re wondering whether “CTP” and “beta” mean the same thing in the cloud as they do on-premises, Microsoft’s answer is “not exactly.” Server and Tools President Bob Muglia told me at the PDC that Microsoft is moving towards a slightly different nomenclature when talking about the path to rollout in the cloud. “Preview” in the cloud refers to code that Microsoft is showing but not providing to testers outside the company. “CTP” refers to code testers can use, but that will be provided for free. “Beta” refers to code available to testers, for which Microsoft plans to charge, Muglia said.

Bill Zack explained Sending Email from Azure in this 12/1/2010 post:

imageOn-premise applications often have a need to send email. For instance an order entry system might have to send an email request to an external vendor to drop-ship all or part of an order.  An event registration system might have to send email confirmations and reminders of an upcoming event. 

In an on-premise application ASP.NET provides a component: Collaboration Data Objects (CDO) that can be used to send email directly from an application.  Windows Azure does not provide a built in capability for sending email.

There are however a couple of solutions for this that you can use until Azure does support this capability:

1. You can leverage an on-premises SMTP server.  You will need to have the SMTP server accessible by the Azure application.  Normally, that requires you to give network engineers the IP address of the application so that they can allow connectivity.  This IP address may change when you delete and re-deploy your application (such as when you add or remove a role, add or remove a configuration setting, change certificate, etc.), but it is one solution.

2. You can also use the Office365 (Exchange Online) service.  However, you can only send messages in the names of the authenticated sender (i.e. you can’t use some arbitrary email address such as as sender).  You also need to set enablessl to true as well.   For more information on how to set this method up see this blog post.

My thanks to Harry Chen of Microsoft for some of the material in this article.

There have been many requests to add simple e-mail sending capability to Azure.

<Return to section navigation list> 

Visual Studio LightSwitch

John Rivard posted Anatomy of a LightSwitch Application Part 4 – Data Access and Storage to the Visual Studio LightSwitch Team blog on 11/30/2010:

image2224222In prior posts I’ve covered the LightSwitch presentation tier and the logic tier. The presentation tier is primarily responsible for human interaction with the application using data from a LightSwitch logic tier. The logic tier comprises one or more LightSwitch data services whose primary job is to process client requests to read and write data from external data stores. This post explores how the logic tier access data and what the supported data storage services are.

The following diagram shows the relevant pieces of each tier that participate in data access.


Figure 1: LightSwitch Tiers

In Visual Studio LightSwitch, when you define a data source by creating a new table or connecting to an external data source, LightSwitch creates a corresponding data service and configures its data provider. For application-defined data, LightSwitch creates a special data source called “ApplicationData” (sometimes referred to as the intrinsic data source). In addition to creating a data service for the intrinsic data source, LightSwitch also creates and publishes the SQL database.

Figure 2 below shows a LightSwitch application with two data sources: the intrinsic “ApplicationData” and an attached “NorthwindData”. LightSwitch will create the corresponding “ApplicationDataService” and “NorthwindDataService” and will publish the database for the intrinsic database.


Figure 2: Data Sources in Project Explorer

Each data service has a data provider that corresponds to the kind of data storage service. LightSwitch supplies the data provider for Microsoft SQL Server and for Microsoft SharePoint, but others can be plugged in to support other data storage services. The following table summarizes the supported data providers and data storage services in LightSwitch 1.0.

Table 1: Supported Data Access Providers


† Not all 3rd party Entity Framework providers have been tested or are known to be compatible with LightSwitch.
‡ Provider specific.

So let’s begin our tour of data access and storage in LightSwitch. We’ll cover the following areas.

  • LightSwitch Data Types
  • Using Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Azure
  • Using Microsoft SharePoint
  • Using a WCF RIA DomainService as a Data Adapter
  • Using an Alternate Entity Framework Provider
LightSwitch Data Types

Before we look at the various data providers that you can use with LightSwitch, it will help to understand the data types that LightSwitch supports. In the sections following, we will see how LightSwitch maps data types from other data source and data access providers to the built-in LightSwitch data types.

Table 2 below lists the simple data types that LightSwitch supports. The data types shown in italic fonts (Date, EmailAddress, Image, PhoneNumber) are referred to as semantic types. These do not represent a distinct value type, but provide specific formatting, visualization and validation for an existing simple data type. The set of simple data types is fixed but the set of semantic types is open for extensibility.

Table 2: LightSwitch Simple Data Types


Nullable Data Types

Each of the LightSwitch simple and semantic data types has a corresponding nullable data type. The data type is represented in the LightSwitch modeling language as datatype?. In the design experience, the q-mark notation is not displayed. Instead a “Required” property indicates a non-nullable value. In code, LightSwitch uses the corresponding nullable VB and C# data types, for example Integer? or int?. The one exception is that both required and non-required string values are represented as the CLR String type. If a string is required, LightSwitch validates that it is non-null and non-empty.

Using Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Azure

This section applies to data accessed from SQL Server, SQL Server Express, or SQL Azure, including the intrinsic “ApplicationData” database created for a LightSwitch application.

Note: In Beta 1 you can connect to an external SQL Azure database but you cannot deploy the intrinsic database to it.

At publish time, you specify the connection string that will be used to access data in SQL Server or SQL Azure. Your production SQL connection string should have the following properties set. (See ConnectionString Property for more information.)


Unsupported Features

LightSwitch does not support accessing SQL stored procedures. The LightSwitch designer ignores all other database objects that may be configured such as triggers, UDFs or SQL CLR. (It is possible to create a custom data adapter that accesses SQL stored procedures. This is covered below in “Using a WCF RIA DomainService as a Data Adapter”.)

LightSwitch does not support certain SQL data types as noted in the table below. LightSwitch omits columns with unsupported data types.

SQL Data Type Mapping

When you attach to an existing SQL Server or SQL Azure, LightSwitch maps the SQL column types to LightSwitch data types according to the following table. A non-nullable SQL type is mapped to a LightSwitch “Required” data type. LightSwitch also imports the length, precision and scale of certain data types.

Table 3: SQL Data Type Mapping image

SQL Data Provider

The LightSwitch logic tier uses the Entity Framework data access provider for SQL Server. In the data service implementation, LightSwitch uses an Entity Framework ObjectContext to move entity instances to and from SQL Server. The LightSwitch developer doesn’t see the Entity Framework objects or API directly. He writes the logic tier business logic in terms of the LightSwitch Entity and Data Workspace API—without concern for the underlying data access mechanism.

LightSwitch supports transactions over SQL Client. The default isolation level for query operations is IsolationLevel.ReadCommitted. The default isolation level for updates is IsolationLevel.RepeatableRead. LightSwitch doesn’t enlist in a distributed transaction by default. You can control that behavior by creating an ambient transaction scope; if available, LightSwitch will compose with it. For more details, see Transaction Management under the Logic Tier architecture post.

Generating the Intrinsic SQL Database

As we’ve noted above, a LightSwitch application has a default application database called “Application Data“. This database provides the data storage for entity types defined by your LightSwitch application – as opposed to entity types that are imported from an external storage service.

At design-time, LightSwitch uses a local SQL Server Express database on the developer’s machine for the intrinsic database. In production, LightSwitch uses Microsoft SQL Server Express, Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft SQL Azure for the application database. Runtime data access is the same as for any other attached SQL Server or SQL Azure database, as described above.

LightSwitch deploys the intrinsic database schema when you publish the application. It will also attempt to upgrade an existing database schema when you upgrade the application.

Note: LightSwitch does not deploy design-time or test data to production. It just deploys the schema. If you have requirements to publish data along with your application, you’ll need to do that as a first-time install or first-time run step.

SQL Schema Generation

LightSwitch maintains a model of the application data entities and relationships. From this model it generates a database storage schema that can be used to create tables and relationships in SQL Server or SQL Azure.

When you use the “Create Table” command in the LightSwitch designer, you are actually defining an entity type and a corresponding entity set. From the entity set, LightSwitch infers the database table and columns. The column types are mapped from the entity properties according to the following table.

Table 4: Generated SQL Column Types


The following LightSwitch data types are not supported when defining entity properties on the intrinsic database: Byte, Guid, SByte, Single, and TimeSpan. These were omitted to keep the design experience simple. They are supported, however, when attaching to an external database.

A LightSwitch “Required” property translates into a SQL “NOT NULL” column.

The LightSwitch designer handles keys and foreign keys for entity relationships. For every entity type, it creates an auto-increment primary key property named “Id” of type Int32. LightSwitch also automatically creates hidden foreign-key fields for entity properties that reference [1] entity or [0..1] entities. These are generated as SQL columns with an appropriate foreign-key constraint.

In general, there is full fidelity in converting data between the LightSwitch data types and the SQL column types. The one exception is DateTime. LightSwitch chose to generate DateTime properties as SQL datetime instead of as datetime2 so that our generated SQL would be compatible with SQL Server 2005. This means that the range and precision of date/time values that LightSwitch handles (via the System.DateTime type) is greater than what the SQL column can store. See SQL date and time types for more details. This is only a problem if your application needs to deal with dates prior to January 1, 1753, which isn’t typical for most business applications.

Schema Versioning

After you’ve built and deployed your Application Data for the first time, you may need to make updates to the application and to its data schema. LightSwitch allows you to deploy over the top of an existing Application Database – to a degree. At publish time LightSwitch will read the schema of the existing published database and attempt to deploy just the differences, for example adding tables, relationships, and adding or altering columns.

There are a number of changes that LightSwitch will not deploy because the changes could result in data loss. Here are some of the breaking changes that could be made in the LightSwitch Entity designer that could result in being unable to deploy the schema updates.

  • Renaming an entity property
  • Changing an entity property’s data type to something that is incompatible
  • Rearranging the order of entity properties
  • Adding a required property
  • Adding a 1-many relationship
  • Adding a 1-0..1 relationship
  • Changing the multiplicity of a relationship (however changing from 1-many to 0..1-many is allowed)
  • Adding a unique index (not available in Beta 1)

LightSwitch doesn’t prevent you from making a breaking change during iterative development. In some cases you may be warned that a change may cause data loss for your design-time test data. If you don’t mind losing your test data, you can accept the warning and make the change. But beware that if you’ve already deployed the data schema once, such a change may prevent you from successfully deploying a schema update because the scripts that LightSwitch uses to update the data schema will fail and roll-back if the potential for data loss is detected.

There are also a certain schema changes that may cause data loss but are intentionally allowed. These include:

  • Deleting an entity property. The column will be dropped and any existing data will be lost. 
  • Deleting an entity. Any foreign-key constraints will be dropped, the table will be dropped, and any existing data will be lost.
  • Deleting a relationship. Any existing foreign-keys and foreign-key constraints will be removed. There is the potential for data loss.
The Membership Database

If you use Windows Authentication or Form Authentication in your application, LightSwitch will also deploy the necessary SQL tables to store membership information for users and roles. These tables are included with the intrinsic database. Internally, LightSwitch uses the ASP.NET SQL Membership provider which requires these tables to be present.

  • dbo.aspnet_Applications
  • dbo.aspnet_Membership
  • dbo.aspnet_Profile
  • dbo.aspnet_Roles
  • dbo.aspnet_SchemaVersions
  • dbo.aspnet_Users
  • dbo.aspnet_UsersInRoles

In addition to Users and Roles, LightSwitch applications have the concept of Permissions. Permissions are defined statically per-application in the LightSwitch application model (LSML). LightSwitch associates Permissions with Roles. A Role acts as an administrative grouping for Permissions. LightSwitch creates one additional table called RolePermissions to track this association.

  • dbo.RolePermissions

Post deployment, you can add and remove users, add and remove roles, associate users with roles, and assign permissions to roles. A user gets all the permissions that are associated with the roles that he or she is in.

Design-time Data

During F5, LightSwitch generates a temporary SQL Server Express database to hold test data. This physical database is not deployed with the application, nor is any of the data that is entered during design-time.

LightSwitch attempts to maintain this data between F5 iterations, even as you make changes to the shape of the data. In cases where a data schema change cannot be performed on the design-time database without data loss, LightSwitch will warn you. If you accept the warnings, it will delete the test database and start from scratch with an empty database.

Using SharePoint Lists

LightSwitch allows you to access lists on a SharePoint 2010 site as tabular data.

Unsupported Features

imageLightSwitch only supports SharePoint 2010 and higher—those versions that support exposing OData. LightSwitch does not support managing SharePoint attachments. All other data types are supported, but there is limited support for displaying or editing some of them, as noted below.

SharePoint Data Type Mapping

LightSwitch maps column types from SharePoint lists to LightSwitch data types according to the following table.

Table 5: SharePoint Data Type Mapping


A SharePoint Lookup column maps to an entity relationship in LightSwitch.

SharePoint Data Provider

All LightSwitch data services use an Entity Framework ObjectContext to manage data in the server data workspace. When there is no Entity Framework data provider available, LightSwitch uses a disconnected ObjectContext and builds its own shim later to move entities in and out of the ObjectContext via an alternate date access provider.

In the case of SharePoint 2010, there is no Entity Framework provider. LightSwitch has an internal adapter that talks to SharePoint via its OData feed, using an instance of System.DataServices.Client.DataServiceContext. Under the hood, LightSwitch does all the necessary query translation and entity type marshaling to go between the EF ObjectContext and the OData DataServiceContext.

The Entity Framework ObjectContext requires entity keys and foreign-keys to manage entity relationships. OData doesn’t handle entity relationships in the same way and does not naturally provide the foreign-key data. LightSwitch compensates for this by traversing the entity relationships to get to the necessary related entity keys and auto-populates the foreign-keys. This is a bit of extra work in the logic tier, but results in a consistent data access model and API.

Using a WCF RIA DomainService as a Data Adapter

LightSwitch lets you plug in a custom data adapter for cases where no other data provider technology is available. Because it requires writing some custom code and entity classes, it works best for custom in-house scenarios or for access to public services that always have the same data schema.

Rather than defining our own protocol for the data adapter, we noted that WCF RIA Services had already done a great job of defining an object that supports query and update to user-defined entity types: the DomainService. LightSwitch uses the same DomainService class as an in-memory adapter—without necessarily exposing it as a public WCF service endpoint.

The solution involves writing a custom DomainService and referencing the DLL from the LightSwitch project. LightSwitch uses .NET reflection to examine the DomainService and to infer the entity types and their read/insert/update/delete accessibilities. From this, LightSwitch generates its own data service and its own entity types so that business logic can be written against it just like with any other data service.

Unsupported Features

LightSwitch does not support the following features of the WCF RIA DomainService:

  • Custom Entity Operations
  • Domain Invoke Operations
  • Multiple assemblies. The DomainService class and the entity classes that it exposes must be defined in the same assembly. The LightSwitch data import feature doesn’t resolve the entity types to a different assembly.
RIA Data Type Mapping

LightSwitch data types from the DomainService entities to LightSwitch data types according to the following table.

Table 6: RIA Entity Data Type Mapping


Data types exposed as nullable types will be imported as required.

LightSwitch also imports metadata attributes specified on the entity types exposed by the DomainService. These attributes are defined in System.ComponentModel.DataAnnotations.

Table 7: RIA Attribute Mapping


Exposing Stored Procedures

LightSwitch doesn’t support access to SQL stored procedures via the standard Entity Framework provider. However, you can use a custom DomainService to expose stored procedures.

Say for example that you have a SQL database where access to the data table is read-only. All inserts, updates and deletes must go through a stored procedure. You can create a DomainService that exposes access to the table as a query and implements custom Insert/Update/Delete methods to invoke the stored procedures.


IQueryable<MyEntity> GetMyEntity() { … }
public void InsertMyEntity(MyEntity e) { … }
public void UpdateMyEntity(MyEntity e) { … }

Calling a Web Service

Consider another case where a call to a web service returns structured information. If the return value(s) can be construed as an entity type (even a pseudo-entity), you can model the web service call as a parameterized query on a DomainService that returns a single entity that contains the results. LightSwitch will model the query as a parameterized domain service query that can be called from the LightSwitch client or server.

// LightSwitch requires a default query for each entity type

IQueryable<MyResults> GetMyResults()
return new List<MyResults>().AsQueryable(); // dummy entity set

// A singleton query returns the results of a web service call
MyResults CallWebService(string param1)
// call web service with param1 and get xxx and yyy
return new MyResults() {
Id = Guid.NewGuid(), // dummy id
Value2=yyy };

Data Provider

Under the hood, LightSwitch does all of the necessary translation between its native entity types and the DomainService entity types. For queries, we also rewrite the query expression tree with the DomainService entity types and hand it off to the DomainSerivce for processing. For updates, we copy the changed LightSwitch entities into a new DomainService change set.

Using Alternate Entity Framework Providers

The LightSwitch logic tier uses Entity Framework as its primary data access mechanism. By default we use the SQL provider for access to Microsoft SQL Server. But any other EF provider can be used—so long as it conforms to the features that LightSwitch expects from it.

When you connect to a data source via an EF provider, LightSwitch can ask the provider for the database schema. The EF provider hands off its schema information via the EDMX format

Unsupported Features

LightSwitch does not support the EDM FunctionImport, typically used to expose stored procedures. It does not support the DateTimeOffset data type and will ignore those columns when importing the data schema.

EDM Data Type Mapping

LightSwitch maps the EDM Simple Types from the imported data schema into LightSwitch data types and attributes according to the following table.

Table 8: EDM Data Type Mapping


Entity Framework Data Provider

There are many 3rd party entity framework providers available. The degree to which each provider works with LightSwitch is unknown as we have not tested with any specific providers other than the SQL provider.

LightSwitch relies on many features of an Entity Framework provider to perform correctly. These include handling complex query expressions, data paging via skip and take operators, searching on string fields, sorting by arbitrary columns, and including related records. All this is to say that your mileage may vary.

While LightSwitch is able to configure any data provider via the EF connection string, a specific provider may require additional deployment or configuration steps. You’ll need to contact the publisher to find out how to use and deploy it with LightSwitch.

We do hope to see many compatible providers available by the time LightSwitch 1.0 ships. Stay tuned!


LightSwitch supports accessing data from a number of different data sources and aggregating that data together. LightSwitch can access data from SQL Server Express, SQL Server and SQL Azure and can also deploying its intrinsic database to any of these. LightSwitch can also access lists from SharePoint 2010, but does not yet have support for arbitrary OData sources

For extensible data access, LightSwitch can use a compatible Entity Framework provider. And finally, you can use a custom data adapter by creating a WCF RIA DomainService class and the related entity classes.

Return to section navigation list> 

Windows Azure Infrastructure

David Linthicum explained Selling SOA/Cloud Part 1 in a 12/1/2010 post to ebizQ’s Where SOA Meets Cloud blog:

image Many organizations out there don't really have to sell SOA, and thus cloud computing. They understand that the hype is the driver, and they, in essence, leverage the thousands of articles and books on the topic to sell this architectural pattern. SOA is easy to sell if everyone else seems to be doing it, and there are plenty of smart people talking about its benefits.

image However, in most cases, SOA has to be sold within the enterprise; it's not a slam-dunk. Indeed, if you're doing SOA right you'll find that the cost quickly goes well into the millions, thus you'll need executive approval for that kind of acceleration in spending. But, the benefits are there as well, including the core benefit of agility that could save the company many times the cost of building a SOA. At least, that's the idea.

Truth-be-told, technical folk are not good at selling the value of a technology, or, in this case, a grouping of technologies, into the enterprise. They rely on the assumption that everyone sees the benefit without them having to explain it, but that is not always the case. Moreover, while in many instances the benefit is clear, in more instances it's not. Also, there is a chance that SOA may not be a fit, and you better figure that out up-front.

So, how do you sell SOA? Let's look a few key concepts, including:

  • Shining a light on existing limitations
  • Creating the business case
  • Creating the execution plan
  • Delivering the goods

Shining a light on existing limitations refers to the process of admitting how bad things are. This is difficult to do for most architects, because you're more or less exposing yourself to criticism. In many instances, you're the person in charge of keeping things working correctly. Architecture within most Global 2000 companies, however, is in need of fixing. You can't change the architectures; they are too complex and ill planned. If your architecture has issues, and they all do, now is time to list them.

This is analogous to admitting that you're 20 pounds overweight before going on a diet, or admitting you have a substance abuse problem before taking the famous 12 steps. In essence, you're defining your issues and thus have a clear understanding of the problems before you attempt to fix them.

As you go through the list of limitations, it's a good idea to also note the impact on the business in both lost productivity and the money that is wasted as a result of that lost productivity. This will feed into the business case we're doing next.

General Chicken listed 8 Commonly Used Scalable System Design Patterns in a 12/1/2010 post to the High Scalability blog:

image Ricky Ho in Scalable System Design Patterns [of 10/15/2010] has created a great list of scalability patterns along with very well done explanatory graphics. A summary of the patterns are:

  1. Load Balancer - a dispatcher determines which worker instance will handle a request based on different policies.
  2. Scatter and Gather - a dispatcher multicasts requests to all workers in a pool. Each worker will compute a local result and send it back to the dispatcher, who will consolidate them into a single response and then send back to the client.
  3. Result Cache - a dispatcher will first lookup if the request has been made before and try to find the previous result to return, in order to save the actual execution.
  4. Shared Space - all workers monitors information from the shared space and contributes partial knowledge back to the blackboard. The information is continuously enriched until a solution is reached.
  5. Pipe and Filter - all workers connected by pipes across which data flows.
  6. MapReduce -  targets batch jobs where disk I/O is the major bottleneck. It use a distributed file system so that disk I/O can be done in parallel.
  7. Bulk Synchronous Parallel - a  lock-step execution across all workers, coordinated by a master.
  8. Execution Orchestrator - an intelligent scheduler / orchestrator schedules ready-to-run tasks (based on a dependency graph) across a clusters of dumb workers.

Judith Hurwitz (@jhurwitz) offered her Predictions for 2011: getting ready to compete in real time in a 12/1/2010 post:

image 2010 was a transition year for the tech sector. It was the year when cloud suddenly began to look realistic to the large companies that had scorned it. It was the year when social media suddenly became serious business. And it was the year when hardware and software were being united as a platform – something like in the old mainframe days – but different because of high-level interfaces and modularity. There were also important trends starting to emerge like the important of managing information across both the enterprise and among partners and suppliers. Competition for ownership of the enterprise software ecosystem headed up as did the leadership of the emerging cloud computing ecosystem.

So, what do I predict for this coming year? While at the outset it might look like 2011 will be a continuation of what has been happening this year, I think there will be some important changes that will impact the world of enterprise software for the rest of the decade.

First, I think it is going to be a very big year for acquisitions. Now I have said that before and I will say it again. The software market is consolidating around major players that need to fill out their software infrastructure in order to compete. It will come as no surprise if HP begins to purchase software companies if it intends to compete with IBM and Oracle on the software front.  But IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft will not sit still either.  All these companies will purchase the incremental technology companies they need to compete and expand their share of wallet with their customers.

This will be a transitional year for the up and coming players like Google, Amazon, Netflix,, and others that haven’t hit the radar yet.  These companies are plotting their own strategies to gain leadership. These companies will continue to push the boundaries in search of dominance.  As they push up market as they grab market share, they will face the familiar problem of being able to support customers who will expect them to act like adults.

Customer support, in fact, will bubble to the top of the issues for emerging as well as established companies in the enterprise space – especially as cloud computing becomes a well-established distribution and delivery platform for computing.  All these companies, whether well established or startups will have to balance the requirements to provide sophisticated customer support with the need to make profit.  This will impact everything from license and maintenance revenue to how companies will charge for consulting and support services.

But what are customers be looking for in 2011? Customers are always looking to reduce their IT expenses – that is a given. However, the major change in 2011 will be the need to innovative based on customer facing initiatives.  Of course, the idea of focusing on customer facing software itself isn’t new there are some subtle changes.  The new initiatives are based on leveraging social networking from a secure perspective to both drive business traffic, anticipate customer needs and issues before they become issues.  Companies will spend money innovating on customer relationships.

Cloud Computing is the other issue in 2011. While it was clearly a major differentiator in 2010, the cloud will take an important leap forward in 2011.  While companies were testing the water this year, next year, companies will be looking at best practices in cloud computing.  2011 will be there year where customers are going to focus on three key issues: data integration across public, private, and data centers, manageability both in terms of workload optimization, security, and overall performance.  The vendors that can demonstrate that they can provide the right level of service across cloud-based services will win significant business. These vendors will increasingly focus on expanding their partner ecosystem as a way to lock in customers to their cloud platform.

Most importantly, 2011 will be the year of analytics.  The technology industry continues to provide data at an accelerated pace never seen before. But what can we do with this data? What does it mean in organizations’ ability to make better business decisions and to prepare for an unpredictable future?  The traditional warehouse simply is too slow to be effective. 2011 will be the year where predictive analytics and information management overall will emerge as among the hottest and most important initiatives.

Now I know that we all like lists, so I will take what I’ve just said and put them into my top ten predictions:

1. Both today’s market leaders and upstarts are going to continue to acquire assets to become more competitive.  Many emerging startups will be scooped up before they see the light of day. At the same time, there will be almost as many startups emerge as we saw in the dot-com era.

2. Hardware will continue to evolve in a new way. The market will move away from hardware as a commodity. The hardware platform in 2010 will be differentiated based on software and packaging. 2010 will be the year of smart hardware packaged with enterprise software, often as appliances.

3. Cloud computing models will put extreme pressure on everything from software license and maintenance pricing to customer support. Integration between different cloud computing models will be front and center. The cloud model is moving out of risk adverse pilots to serious deployments. Best practices will emerge as a major issue for customers that see the cloud as a way to boost innovation and the rate of change.

4. Managing highly distributed services in a compliant and predictable manner will take center stage. Service management and service level agreements across cloud and on-premises environments will become a prerequisite for buyers.

5. Security software will be redefined based on challenges of customer facing initiatives and the need to more aggressively open the corporate environment to support a constantly morphing relationship with customers, partners, and suppliers.

6. The fear of lock in will reach a fever pitch in 2011. SaaS vendors will increasingly add functionality to tighten their grip on customers.  Traditional vendors will purchase more of the components to support the lifecycle needs of customers.  How can everything be integrated from a business process and data integration standpoint and still allow for portability? Today, the answers are not there.

7. The definition of an application is changing. The traditional view that the packaged application is hermetically sealed is going away. More of the new packaged applications will be based on service orientation based on best practices. These applications will be parameter-driven so that they can be changed in real time. And yes, Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) didn’t die after all.

8. Social networking grows up and will be become business social networks. These initiatives will be driven by line of business executives as a way to engage with customers and employees, gain insights into trends, to fix problems before they become widespread. Companies will leverage social networking to enhance agility and new business models.

9. Managing end points will be one of the key technology drivers in 2011. Smart phones, sensors, and tablet computers are refining what computing means. It will drive the requirement for a new approach to role and process based security.

10. Data management and predictive analytics will explode based on both the need to understand traditional information and the need to manage data coming from new sales and communications channels.

The bottom line is that 2011 will be the year where the seeds that have been planted over the last few years are now ready to become the drivers of a new generation of innovation and business change. Put together everything from the flexibility of service orientation, business process management innovation, the wide-spread impact of social and collaborative networks, the new delivery and deployment models of the cloud. Now apply tools to harness these environments like service management, new security platforms, and analytics. From my view, innovative companies are grabbing the threads of technology and focusing on outcomes. 2011 is going to be an important transition year. The corporations that get this right and transform themselves so that they are ready to change on a dime can win – even if they are smaller than their competitors.

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Windows Azure Platform Appliance (WAPA), HPC and Hyper-V Cloud


David Chapell announced on 12/1/2010 the availability of his Microsoft-sponsored HPC Server and Windows Azure: High-Performance Computing in the Cloud white paper (site registration required):

One of the most obvious uses of cloud platforms is in high-performance computing. In many ways, HPC is all about processing power, and so using the cloud to provide CPUs on demand is attractive.
In the Microsoft world, high-performance computing is supported by Windows HPC Server, while processing power on demand is provided by Windows Azure. It shouldn't be surprising that these two technologies have been brought together. To explain this combination, I've written a Microsoft-sponsored paper that describes high-performance computing in the cloud using Windows HPC Server and Windows Azure.

Available here (registration required, I'm afraid), the paper doesn't assume prior knowledge of either technology. Instead, the goal is to provide a big-picture introduction to using the two together, giving you a sense of what the combination allows and why it's interesting.



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Cloud Security and Governance

Tanya Forsheit (@Forsheit) reported the availability of the FTC’s Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework on 12/1/2010:

imageFTC Staff Issues Privacy Report Offers Framework for Consumers, Businesses, and Policymakers
Endorses “Do Not Track” to Facilitate Consumer Choice About Online Tracking

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s chief privacy policy and enforcement agency for 40 years, issued a preliminary staff report today that proposes a framework to balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services. The proposed report also suggests implementation of a “Do Not Track” mechanism – likely a persistent setting on consumers’ browsers – so consumers can choose whether to allow the collection of data regarding their online searching and browsing activities.

“Technological and business ingenuity have spawned a whole new online culture and vocabulary – email, IMs, apps and blogs – that consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

The report states that industry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation “have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.” The framework outlined in the report is designed to reduce the burdens on consumers and businesses.

“This proposal is intended to inform policymakers, including Congress, as they develop solutions, policies, and potential laws governing privacy, and guide and motivate industry as it develops more robust and effective best practices and self-regulatory guidelines,” according to the report, which is titled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”

Leibowitz added that the FTC, in addition to making policy recommendations, “will take action against companies that cross the line with consumer data and violate consumers’ privacy – especially when children and teens are involved.”

The FTC staff developed the proposed framework in recognition of increasing advances in technology that allow for rapid data collection and sharing that is often invisible to consumers. Although many companies use privacy policies to explain their information practices, the policies have become long, legalistic disclosures that consumers usually don’t read and don’t understand if they do. Current privacy policies force consumers to bear too much burden in protecting their privacy.

To reduce the burden on consumers and ensure basic privacy protections, the report first recommends that “companies should adopt a ‘privacy by design’ approach by building privacy protections into their everyday business practices.” Such protections include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy. Companies also should implement and enforce procedurally sound privacy practices throughout their organizations, including assigning personnel to oversee privacy issues, training employees, and conducting privacy reviews for new products and services.

Second, the report states, consumers should be presented with choice about collection and sharing of their data at the time and in the context in which they are making decisions – not after having to read long, complicated disclosures that they often cannot find. The report adds that, to simplify choice for both consumers and businesses, companies should not have to seek consent for certain commonly accepted practices. It is “reasonable for companies to engage in certain practices – namely, product and service fulfillment, internal operations such as improving services offered, fraud prevention, legal compliance, and first-party marketing,” the report states. “By clarifying those practices for which consumer consent is unnecessary, companies will be able to streamline their communications with consumers, reducing the burden and confusion on consumers and businesses alike.”

One method of simplified choice the FTC staff recommends is a “Do Not Track” mechanism governing the collection of information about consumer’s Internet activity to deliver targeted advertisements and for other purposes. Consumers and industry both support increased transparency and choice for this largely invisible practice. The Commission recommends a simple, easy to use choice mechanism for consumers to opt out of the collection of information about their Internet behavior for targeted ads. The most practical method would probably involve the placement of a persistent setting, similar to a cookie, on the consumer’s browser signaling the consumer’s choices about being tracked and receiving targeted ads.

The report also recommends other measures to improve the transparency of information practices, including consideration of standardized notices that allow the public to compare information practices of competing companies. The report recommends allowing consumers “reasonable access” to the data that companies maintain about them, particularly for non-consumer facing entities such as data brokers. Finally, FTC staff proposes that stakeholders undertake a broad effort to educate consumers about commercial data practices and the choices available to them.

The vote approving the preliminary staff report was 5-0, with Commissioners William E. Kovacic and J. Thomas Rosch issuing concurring statements. Public comments on the report will be accepted until January 31, 2011. To file a public comment electronically, please click here and follow the instructions.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Boris Segalis [pictured below] reported David Vladeck Previews FTC's Report on Online Privacy in a 12/1/2010 post to the Information Law Group blog:

image Speaking this morning, David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, discussed some of the major points of the Commission's upcoming report on online privacy. Mr. Vladeck said that the FTC's report will set out strategies for reducing the daunting burden consumers currently are facing in safeguarding their online privacy.

Here are some of the major points the report is expected to raise:

  • Implementation of privacy by design; building privacy choices and technology into products and services as they are developed
  • Transparency of privacy practices and consumer privacy notices; providing short, precise notices at the data collection point
  • Simplification of consumer choices; making the choices meaningful
  • Simplification of consumer choices through a one stop shop for opting out of marketing or tracking (the FTC distinguishes between tracking and targeting); Mr. Vladeck believes there are technological means to implement this option, but the FTC does not have the authority to mandate such a system without Congressional action

  • Respect for consumers' choices; the FTC will not tolerate use of technological means to circumvent consumer choice

  • Encouraging competition on privacy by enabling consumers to compare privacy practices of competing websites
  • Strong protection for sensitive data, such as children's information, geo-location data and other information
  • Giving consumers access to their data; access is an important ingredient in privacy accountability
  • Focus on consumer and business education about privacy

Mr. Vladeck encouraged privacy stakeholders to answer questions that the FTC’s report will pose and provide other comments. The deadline for comments will be January 31, 2011.

Check back with us later today for a detailed analysis of the FTC’s report.

Nicole Hemsoth posted Cross-National Perceptions of Clouds, Data Protection and Privacy on 11/30/2010:

image November seems to be the official month of cloud computing surveys, with one after another cropping up, often with some variation on gauging adopter patterns and concerns. This week Fujitsu joined the survey ranks with a study of over 3000 people from six countries—all related to issues of data privacy and personal information in the cloud.

image While certainly this does not relate directly to high-performance computing, it’s useful to check in now and again with some of the larger trends in the cloud space. It may not come as a surprise that no matter where in the world they are from, people are not exactly comfortable with the thought that their personal data could be floating around anywhere and theoretically accessed by anyone—including their governments.

Despite the “obvious” factor to the Fujitsu survey, it is remarkable in that it presented some striking parallels between how those from different nations place value on personal information as it exists outside of their direct control.

Here are some interesting findings and figures from Fujitsu’s “Personal Data in the Cloud: A Global Survey of Consumer Attitudes” to consider…

90% of US consumers want to be asked to give permission for their data to be shared but only 77% of Japanese consumers do.

88% of people are worried about who has access to their data.

72% of German consumers expect government to keep out of their personal data, but only 46% of US consumers expect this.

36% of Singapore consumers believe that the benefits of using personal data to create personalized shopping experiences outweigh the risks, but only 17% of UK consumers do.

One of the most compelling revelations from of this study relates to the way users in different countries perceive the influence and possibility for data misuse or mishandling from their own governments.

While no country overwhelmingly trusted its government with access and control over cloud-residing data, what does it mean that some of the countries that are most advanced cloud computing-wise (the United States, for example) are those where the greatest fear about government use or viewing of personal data exists?

There is an overwhelming assumption that governments need to have a role in policing data “but this belief is undermined by lack of trust in both the competence and motives of government. While most people recognized that national or indeed, international institutions may be required to police the use of data, some questioned the ability of governments to do this, citing previous failures in security and new IT systems.”

The report went on to note that while “85% expect governments to impose penalties on companies that break data privacy laws, only 52% seriously expect them to stay out of people’s personal data and only 34% want government to take an active role connecting data held about people in different places.”

While Fujitsu went on at length at some of the ways consumers are willing to make “trade-offs” between possible data privacy issues and convenience or other cloud-related benefits, it didn’t ask respondents much in the way of what would make their data privacy issues less of a concern.

Regulation was touted as being one solution, but there can be no total international resolution. As the report noted, “Regulation is, at best, only part of the solution. Consumers are just as concerned about the government’s agenda as they are about that of private companies. Moreover, the significant variance in regional attitudes suggests that a single set of global rules governing data privacy will not answer all consumers’ concerns.”

Again, while some of this consumer cloud fluff touches very little for those in the realm of HPC, whether in the cloud or not, it’s important to keep our finger on the pulse of how cloud adoption is occurring and what the perceived challenges are.

You can download the full report here. Unlike this quick review, the real deal has a lot of snazzy charts.

CSC Trusted Cloud Services reported a Cloud Security and Compliance Virtual Seminar to be held on 12/8/2010:

image On December 8th, CSC will be participating in the Cloud Security and Compliance Virtual Seminar hosted by ISACA, and This virtual event will give attendees direct access to renowned security and compliance experts, qualified senior IT peers, and practical independent advice and best practices on how to define, defend and regulate cloud environments.

We will be there discuss how our cloud solutions capture realizable gains in business agility, innovation and cost reduction by transforming business processes and applications with the right cloud, the right way. Customer-centric and platform independent, we help you select the best technology to meet your needs.  We are a proud member of the Cloud Security Alliance as security is an integral component of all our offerings, processes and systems.

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Cloud Computing Events

Ryan McCabe announced three Windows Azure Jumpstart Webcasts on 12/7, 12/9 and 12/14/2010 to Linked In’s Windows Azure Users Group on 12/1/2010:

image Microsoft would like to invite you to a Live Webcast event specifically designed for ISVs interested in learning more about the Windows Azure Platform. This 90 minute jumpstart of Azure give you a broad understanding of Microsoft’s Cloud Computing offerings within the Windows Azure Platform. We’ll discuss ISV opportunities for the cloud, and show you how they can get started using Windows Azure and SQL Azure today.

imageThe target audience for these events includes Business Decision Makers, Technical Decision Makers, Architects, and Development leads. The sessions are targeted at the 100 level with a mix of business focused information as well as technical information.

  • Microsoft Cloud Computing Strategy
    In this session you will understand the concrete services that Microsoft is delivering to enable you to build applications that deliver more value for your customers and enable new opportunities for you as an ISV.
  • Overview of Windows Azure Cloud Computing Environment
    We’ll then explore the key concepts of Windows Azure operating environment, development tools and Azure platform capabilities like automated service management, storage and our relational database SQL Azure which are all key in enabling real world applications that are self-contained inside cloud as well as solutions that will integrate with on-premise and partners applications or services.
  • Windows Azure Platform Pricing Model and Key Resources
    Finally, we’ll explain the Windows Azure Platform pricing model for each of the services and current purchasing programs. We’ll also call out some key resources that are available to help you get started with the Windows Azure Platform.

Three dates to choose from:

Sand, and Mark Eisenberg (@AzureBizAndTech) from the Windows Sales Azure Team will present a one-hour Webinar on 12/2/2010 at 10:00 to 11:00 AM PST:

Looking to understand the cloud value proposition?  Thinking about how to leverage the cloud for your business today?  Wondering how to build new applications in the cloud?  What about modernizing your legacy applications?
Cloud Technology Partners (CloudTP) and Microsoft are hosting a Webinar titled "How to Use the Cloud Today?". 

Learn about the state of the cloud, including the forces driving cloud adoption, the cloud value proposition, the profile of cloud users, and the challenges they face, from Sand Hill analyst and cloud blogger Kamesh Pemmaraju.  Hear cloudTP founder and chief architect Erik Sebesta address how to transform your business using cloud solutions. Listen as Microsoft Azure expert Mark Eisenberg describes Azure use cases.

Attendees will gain a greater understanding of how to use the cloud to transform their businesses, and the potential roles Platform-as-a-Service and business transformation services can play.

About Sand Hill:
image ( is a premier online destination delivering strategic business information to software executives. publishes opinions from leaders and visionaries, links to relevant industry news, and informative and actionable research.

About cloudTP:
image Cloud Technology Partners ( helps transform businesses using cloud solutions. Started by the founders and alumni of Cambridge Technology Partners, we accelerate your ability to respond to the needs of the business, drive innovation, and lower IT costs by leveraging cloud solutions.  Our services range from cloud strategy to transformation, implementation and managed services

About Windows Microsoft Azure
imageAzure is Microsoft’s operating system for the cloud. It lets your applications scale up or down depending on the demands of your business. Free your developers to work with languages they are familiar with - .Net, PHP, Java or Ruby. Plus with a pay-for-use business model, you will pay only for services you actually consume.

Register here.

James Conard (@jamescon) and Ryan Dunn (@dunnry) will present a one-hour Getting Started with the Windows Azure November 2010 Release (DPE110CAL) Webcast at 9:00 AM on 12/1/2010 (requires registration):

imageJust a few short weeks ago at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference we announced several new features for Windows Azure. These new enhancements are now available so you can start using them to build Windows Azure applications. Some of these new enhancements include Virtual Machine Role and Elevated Privileges, which can make it easier to move existing applications to the cloud, Windows Azure Connect which can enable you to connect on-premises systems to the cloud, and core enhancements such as a new Windows Azure platform portal experience. In this webcast you will see several demos of these brand new Windows Azure features and see firsthand how to start building Windows Azure applications with the new Windows Azure SDK and Tools.

Presented by:

  • James Conard, Sr Director, Evangelism, Microsoft
  • Ryan Dunn, Sr. Technical Evangelist, Microsoft

The South Bay .NET User Group announced Introduction to Visual Studio LightSwitch as the subject of their 12/1/2010 6:00 PM PST meeting at Microsoft - Mt. View Campus, 1065 La Avenida Street, Bldg. 1, Mountain View, CA 94043:

image2224222LightSwitch is a new product in the Visual Studio family aimed at developers who want to easily create business applications for the desktop or the cloud. It simplifies the development process by letting you concentrate on the business logic while LightSwitch handles the common tasks for you.

image In this demo-heavy session, you will see, end-to-end, how to build and deploy a data-centric business application using LightSwitch. We’ll also go beyond the basics of creating simple screens over data and demonstrate how to create screens with more advanced capabilities.

You’ll see how to extend LightSwitch applications with your own Silverlight custom controls and RIA services. We’ll also talk about the architecture and additional extensibility points that are available to professional developers looking to enhance the LightSwitch developer experience.

Speaker's Bio:

image Beth Massi is a Senior Program Manager on the Visual Studio BizApps team at Microsoft who build the Visual Studio tools for Azure, Office, SharePoint as well as Visual Studio LightSwitch. Beth is a community champion for business application developers and is responsible for producing and managing online content and community interaction with the BizApps team.

Sign up here.

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Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Eric Knorr reported “A new graphical portal corrals exclusive InfoWorld content explaining what you need to know about the most popular applications for cloud computing” in a preface to his InfoWorld launches cloud computing iGuide article of 12/1/2010 for InfoWorld’s Modernizing IT blog:

image As regular InfoWorld readers know, we've been covering cloud computing since it started to take shape three years ago -- and parsing out what the industry's biggest trend really means. Today we're kicking it up a notch with the launch of a new InfoWorld iGuide to cloud computing.

image Think of this graphical iGuide as a portal to help you assess your needs and develop a cloud computing strategy. We've divided the iGuide into six sections, five of them covering common public cloud activities on the open Internet and one devoted to the so-called private cloud.

Cloud applications. Otherwise known as software as a service, cloud apps began as the answer to a simple question: Why can't enterprise applications be as easy to use as websites? That's how, among others, started out. But the real value to the customer is the speed of deployment and the lack of up-front licensing and server costs. Just set up user accounts, and the provider delivers the application over the Internet through the browser on a subscription or per-use basis -- and ongoing upgrades are part of the bargain.

Big data. Companies collect more data than they know what to do with, from clickstream data on millions of Web users to terabytes of security and system log files. There's gold in that data: predictive analysis for online retail, security threat assessment, early signs of system failure, and so on. But most of that data is unstructured, which means conventional SQL databases won't do. And investing in the infrastructure required for large-scale NoSQL or MapReduce processing isn't worth it unless you run such huge jobs all the time. So why not "rent" that infrastructure from a cloud provider?

Development and testing. You can divide dev and test services into two basic categories: the raw compute and storage providers that let you set up your own environments, and platform-as-a-service providers that offer specific, often incredibly rich, development environments. Microsoft has made a big push lately with its Windows Azure platform, while Salesforce's platform and Google's App Engine provide their own frameworks and tools. Those who create Web applications using a platform as a service typically deploy on that platform as well.

Disaster recovery. Virtualization and commodity cloud services vastly reduce the cost of redundancy. Before, if you wanted a hot or warm site as a backup for your production data center, you'd need to build it and maintain it as a kind of physical clone -- or have a provider do it for even more money. But virtualization has changed the equation. Now you can wrap up your virtual machines, upload them to an infrastructure-as-a-service provider's servers, and keep them continually updated for far less.

Compute and storage. Simply being able to extend data center infrastructure by going to an infrastructure-as-a-service provider's site, entering account info, and provisioning resources can vastly increase the agility of IT operations -- particularly for short-term "burst" applications. Amazon is the best-known provider, but Rackspace has been in the game nearly as long, and IBM now offers enterprise-class infrastructure-as-a-service plans.

Read more: next page ›, 2

Accenture published a White Paper: Cloud, Agile,BI and VOIP, The Future of Elastic Technologies on 11/30/2010 (site registration required):

image Renewed annually, the Accenture Technology Vision is a comprehensive analysis of emerging trends and major technological changes that may have a significant business impact on your business and your clients in the next three to five years.

High performance businesses can make use of this report to help understand potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. This year’s report builds on last year’s vision of an elastic world in which business capabilities infrastructure, people and thoughts can be expanded or contracted on demand. As the Everything Elastic world starts to emerge, scientists and thinkers have identified seven technology trends that help define how this new world is developing.

  1. Cloud Computing Forecast for the Year Ahead
  2. The New Web - and It's New Opportunities Spanning Across a Variety of Connected Devices
  3. How New and Emerging Devices Will Change the Business Landscape
  4. Fluid Collaboration Tools That Create Faster and More Agile Business Processes
  5. How Elastic Technologies and Business Intelligence Create Differentiation

Register to download the white paper here.

Chris Czarnecki described Amazon AWS and ISO 27001 Certification in a 12/1/2010 post to the Learning Tree blog:

When teaching the Learning Tree Cloud Computing course, one of the biggest perceived barriers to cloud adoption I hear from attendees is security. As we discuss this, and in exercises and case studies discuss planning a migration to the cloud, we highlight that governance and standards are required for the cloud.

One of the standards we discuss is ISO/IEC 27001. This standard, whilst not cloud specific, is important for cloud providers as it ensures certain levels of management and control are in place. Any organisation achieving this certification has to satisfy a three stage audit process, undertaken by independent auditors and regularly checked thereafter.

By achieving ISO/IEC 27001 certification, a cloud provider would give potential customers a measurable indication that security and risk management of data is in place. This may not only provide cloud vendors with a competitive advantage, but also be a key factor in persuading management to move to the cloud or not.

In November, Amazon achieved ISO/IEC 27001 for its Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is significant as it provides a recognised measure related to the level of security and risk management in place for those choosing to use this service. If, combined to this adopters consider that Amazon also has successfully completed a SAS 70 type II audit then it is clear that governance is now being applied to the cloud.

Amazon have set the bar in the range of Cloud Computing services offered, and are now doing the same in governance. Its is only a matter of time before the other major vendors follow. If you would like to know more about Cloud Computing and how it may benefit your organisation why not consider attending the Learning Tree Cloud Computing Course.

Chris doesn’t mention that AWS is a bit late to the game with ISO/IEC 27001 certification. Microsoft data centers have been certified for at least the last two years. See:

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