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Learn Cloud Computing with Windows Azure – Part 9 – Windows Azure Management Portal

 

Visual Studio 2010 Integrated Development Environment extends with a set of tools that will be installed while we installing the Windows Azure SDK. These tools play a major role in developing the Windows Azure Application using the Visual Studio IDE and also it provides the developers with much easier way to package and publish the application right from the IDE itself. Microsoft makes the developer and the administrator tasks much easier by providing most the manual work into automated tools which can be trigger directly without spending much of the time to check the process. With the Visual Studio 2010 IDE and the Windows Azure tools we can create, configure, build, debug, run, package and deploy scalable web applications and service on Windows Azure easily.

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We need to open Visual Studio 2010 IDE in administrator mode when we run from Windows 7 operating system. Since we are going to package and publish the application and the configuration requires the IDE to run in the administrator mode. To run in administrator mode, just right click on the Visual Studio 2010 IDE shortcut in the Start à Programs à Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 à Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and select Run as Administrator as shown in the Figure.

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Figure – Visual Studio 2010 as Administrator

We can see the Visual Studio 2010 IDE open in the administrator mode by looking into the title bar of the IDE. Now to see if the Windows Azure SDK is installed correctly with the required software’s start creating a new project by select File à New à Project and we can see the list of available templates. Target the Cloud tab and we can see the Windows Azure Project template enabled to start with the development as shown in the Figure.

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Figure – New Azure Project

So the development environment is ready and we can start developing the Windows Azure Cloud application straight away. Also we can migrate the existing ASP.NET application to the Azure cloud with some easy steps which we will see in our upcoming chapters. Say we have developed our Windows Azure Cloud application using Visual Studio IDE, we need to have our Windows Azure Management Portal ready to deploy the application and make it live over the cloud. Let us see the requirements and the steps to register and get a Windows Azure Account from Microsoft to deploy and manage the applications on the cloud using the Windows Azure Management Portal.

Windows Azure Management Portal.

Windows Azure Subscription provides with the Management portal to deploy our application over the Windows Azure Cloud environment on to the Microsoft Data Centers as per our convenient location based on the users targeted. So to start with the Windows Azure Subscription, Microsoft is providing the below options to register and start using the environment right away. Microsoft at present provide 2 types of subscription as below

· Pay as you Go – This option is extremely flexible as it involves no up-front costs, and no long term commitment. You pay only for the resources that you use. In the Pay-As-You-Go option, Web, Worker, and VM compute resources are paid for on a per-hour usage basis. Storage, Database, Bandwidth, Caching and CDN features are charged on a per-GB/month usage basis, with per-transaction costs for some resources.

· 6 Months Plan – With 6 month plan we can take advantage of significant price discounts off our Pay-As-You-Go rates. You will get a 20% discount for Compute and Database and up to 39% off for Storage. The storage discount depends on the number of terabytes that you purchase. Additional resources will be charged as pay as you go rates.

For a beginner to get your hands dirty with the Azure development, Microsoft is providing a 3 months free trial period where you can register with your credit card and Microsoft provides a trial of below resource that can be utilized to check the performance and scale it as and when required to get the complete idea on hosting your application over the Azure Cloud Environment.

Resource

Capacity

Compute

750 small compute hours per month

Database

1GB web edition SQL Azure database

Storage

20GB with 1,000,000 storage transactions

Content Delivery Network

500,000 CDN transactions

Bandwidth

Unlimited inbound / 20GB Outbound

Credit card is required to register for the trial subscription basically if any extra consumption of the resources will be charged per month apart from the above capacity. You can use the below link to step forward and register the appropriate subscription plan as per the requirement.

Windows Azure Registration Link

Note – You should have a valid Windows Live ID to register for the subscription

Once we are done with our registration and we got the subscription details from Microsoft (Normally take a business day to process the registration) we can login to our Windows Azure Management Portal using the link below.

Windows Azure Management Portal Link

We can find the Manage button at the top right section, we need to click on the Manage option to navigate to the Windows Azure Management Portal. The portal is completely developed with the Microsoft Silverlight framework; it takes a bit time to load the portal completely with all the components. Once the portal is loaded completely we can see all the components enabled and the portal looks similar to the figure. Also you can see the list of tutorials and the beta runs of the changes which Microsoft Azure team frequently updates to provide the best to the customers. We will see in detail on each of the component while stepping forward to the other chapters and how the component is integrated with the Windows Azure Management Portal to get a clear understanding.

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Figure – Windows Azure Management Portal

Microsoft provides the same portal for the SQL Azure Management as well, but provides an additional resource dashboard for managing the data with a metro style design which is released in the recent SDK (1.6).

Windows Azure Emulators:

Windows Azure Emulators are the local virtual device which can be used to test and debug the application locally before deploying to the Windows Azure Platform. Microsoft has provided with 2 different types of emulators as below

· Windows Azure Compute Emulator

· Windows Azure Storage Emulator

When compared to the real environment testing the application with the Emulator will definitely have quite a few differences which should be taken care while deploying the application to the real environment.

Difference between the Compute Emulator and Windows Azure Compute:

· Role instance running on a Compute Emulator has access to the GAC, Registry and Machine Configuration on the local machine which is not available real time in the Windows Azure environment.

· Roles instance logging can be directly views in the output window when running the application on a Compute Emulator which is not available real time in Windows Azure rather we need to use the Diagnostic API to log the information’s to the table and read the same.

· Roles instances running in Compute Emulator normally runs with an Administrator privilege whereas the same role instance running on the real environment on Windows Azure will run with the Windows Account so there will be a chance of the role instance behave differently.

Similarly we have quite a few differences with the Storage Emulator and the Windows Azure Storage services. To trigger the Emulator we can directly go to Start à Programs à Windows Azure Emulators and select the appropriate Emulator as shown in the Figure.

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Figure – Windows Azure Emulators

So in this article, we have seen the general subscription options for Windows Azure Account to login and use the Windows Azure Management Portal and the usage of Windows Azure Emulators.

About Author: Karthikeyan Anbarasan, Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) in ASP.NET/IIS Architecture. He is the Founder and Chief Editor of the www.f5debug.net website and has authored books on Windows Phone and Business Intelligence(SSIS). He is also a Passionate Speaker and a Blogger on Microsoft Technologies.

You can Join Me On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn

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