Unfortunately I’m not at Mix09. But I doubt that the attending delegates would get as broad a view across everything coming out of Mix as you and I sitting at home on our computers, watching the blogs and the screen casts, will. There’s a lot happening, in many different spaces, across many different teams. While the Azure team are good at announcing stuff via twitter and their blog, there’s still some stuff that is cloud related and not necessarily related to utility computing (reminding you that my definition of cloud may not be the same as yours). I’ll attempt to cover it all in case you missed the tweets and couldn’t be bothered reading 100 different blog posts.
On to the list! (in no particular order)
Lots of good stuff has come out of Azure. Some of it we knew was coming, some of it we expected to come. There’s also been some announcements about the next phase of work and what’s to come.
Quite simply, you can now write code that will run in full trust, which of course means running native code (PInvoke). This applies to both web and worker roles thankfully and means you can use 3rd party libraries that depend on full trust. The only thing to be aware of is that the roles themselves still run under a user account with limited privileges. You still can’t touch the registry, etc. This is necessary for security (obviously). You don’t want user code to hit the windows service needed by the fabric controller to monitor an instance (lest we employ hacks to get free hosting hours!).
To enable full trust, a simple config change to the service definition is required. More info here.
Where there is the ability to support native code, comes the ability to support other languages. Enter: FastCGI. Ever attempted to host that Wordpress blog on IIS7? You’d already be familiar with FastCGI then. This will enable PHP applications to run in Azure. It requires some work to setup, but there is a new web role for FastCGI to get you started quicker.
Previously Azure was hosted out of a data centre in Seattle (I think, please correct me if wrong). Although Microsoft has data centres all over, they limited Azure to this location to begin with. This is now changing however with a second location in the country’s south. As the technology around Azure improves to support locations, the ability to provision the software on new (existing) data centres has (nearly) become available: essentially it is now scalable to n data centres.. You’ll be able to group your applications and define how they will be geospatially dispersed. This lends itself to better performance for your web visitors, as well as having other benefits.
This is a ‘coming soon’ technology more so than ‘here right now’. More info here.
Previously it was a little hard to get across all the bits and pieces needed to get going in the Azure world. Now there is a dedicated developer site to get us moving which includes a lot of content that was previously floating around in different locations (SDKs, blogs, etc). It even has a clearer path for new users to get started with Azure around the token redemption process (something that caused a lot of problems previously). Also there was recently an update to the Azure SDK that saw the VS tools merged and an auto-update process to make things just that little bit smoother.
If anyone doesn’t want to use their credit, please donate it generously to this blog so I can review it for you.
These are some things I’ve picked up from the live twitter feed (mostly language related):
So, launch is at the end of this year?
Ever had to implement the delegated authentication story to get access to someone’s messenger contacts? Previously its been a pain. The API’s have changed continuously, the tooling hasn’t been fantastic, the merge with Azure has made lots of previous documentation redundant, you get the idea. Well now life is about to get a lot easier with a dedicated toolkit called ‘Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit’.
If you haven’t heard (or didn’t see it coming) Silverlight 3 beta is now released. Of course there’s various enhancements, bug fixes, etc. But the most cloud focused aspect is this ability to run Silverlight applications on the desktop, similar to a certain Adobe product.
Of course you could speculate that this negates the need for WPF but lets be honest, WPF is way too cool for that to ever happen, and WPF supports the full framework, whereas Silverlight is (or was) a 4mb plugin. Still, install your app to the cloud, let it run on the desktop. Pretty cool eh?
This is an interesting concept and I’m not sure if it will take off (time will tell, don’t worry I’ll edit this post if it does). The idea is that you can create a special installer for your product and upload it to the Web App Gallery where other people can install it in a similar fashion to Click-Once. I guess the motto here is store your web app installer in the cloud. Coupled with this announcement is that MVC is now RC (at the bottom of the deep blue – sea sea).
Ok truthfully the gallery (and installer) have been around for more than a few hours, but really, its the updated support via IIS extensions, MVC, and new installer release that really make the Mix09 announcement.
Well of course not. There’s lots of stuff being announced that may or may not relate to this blog. But hey, lets hope they save something for Tech Ed and PDC right?
I’m still watching for some Mesh announcements although it looks like they are simply demoing some of the functionality I’ve already talked about in relation to the Live Framework Client.