On April 12th – 14th Microsoft will hold the annual Mix conference in Las Vegas. The Mix conference is just that – a mix of topics ranging from design to development and from HTML5 to the cloud, with a few Phone and MVC sessions thrown in.
Earlier this week we published the first set of sessions focused on the Windows Azure Platform that we’re planning for the Mix11. Some of the specific sessions include:
Build Fast Web Applications with Windows Azure AppFabric Caching
Speed up Web Applications using the new Windows Azure AppFabric Caching service. This session will cover concepts, scenarios, and features of the Caching service through a great many samples and demonstrations. We’ll talk through different approaches to optimize new and existing applications through new ASP.NET session state and page output providers that leverage the Caching service, as well as ways to directly use the cache APIs to store and retrieve data. After attending this talk, developers will be able to make their Windows Azure applications match increasing demand with increasing throughput by using the skills they’ll learn in this session.
Speakers: Karandeep Anand and Wade Wegner
Building Windows Phone 7 Applications with the Windows Azure Platform
Learn how to build Windows Phone 7 applications that are backed by scalable cloud components hosted in Windows Azure. This demo-focused session will cover the end-to-end experience and address how to tackle issues such as authentication, storage, notification, and data synchronization using the Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone 7.
Speaker: Wade Wegner
Identity Unraveled with the Access Control Service
Come learn how to use the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service as a key building block for your web applications. See how your applications can seamlessly work with LiveID, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and corporate identities – all from a single codebase. Watch the barriers to entry disappear, and behold the emergence of a simple way to deal with identity in your applications. It’s guaranteed to be a show you won’t want to miss.
Speaker: Justin Smith
Node.js, Ruby, and Python in Windows Azure: A Look at What’s Possible
Speaker: Steve Marx
Powering Data On the Web and Beyond with SQL Azure
This session will be jam-packed with demos and guidance on lighting up web experiences using SQL Azure, Microsoft’s suite of cloud database services. Using Visual Studio we’ll go through the steps to quickly architect cloud data-driven web user experiences in ASP.NET MVC3 that also scale for high volumes of users and data. Next, we’ll demonstrate how SQL Azure quickly and powerfully extends user experiences farther – spanning mobile devices, AJAX experiences with jQuery, and synchronized data with on-premises applications.
Speaker: David Robinson
You can find the complete list of Mix11 sessions here: mix11.
Finally, if you haven’t registered for Mix yet, go to http://live.visitmix.com and register before it’s too late.
This year for PDC I was also asked to deliver one of the demos in Bob Muglia’s keynote. Bob focused his presentation exclusively on the Windows Azure Platform. He announced several new features for Windows Azure (including VM Role, Admin mode, RDP, Full IIS, and the new portal experience) as well as several new and updated services (including SQL Azure Reporting, Access Control, and Caching). You can view the full keynote online here: akeK7Q. My demo starts at 2 hrs 40 minutes in the video stream – or here is a bookmark to go directly to the demo.
In my demo I showed how we’re going to take the Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach with the Windows Azure Platform even further in the near future. So you have the context, in the previous demo, Don Box and Jonathan Carter showed how they could quickly create an application that composed several new services to provide new functionality in the app. They integrated the Access Control Service to support authentication with Facebook and Active Directory (via ADFS). They showed how to use the new Windows Azure AppFabric Caching Service to cache data coming from a local SQL Azure database and an OData feed. Finally, they showed how to use the new SQL Azure Reporting service to execute and embed reports in an ASP.NET application.
My demo focused on how we’re going make it easier to compose apps (like Don and Jonathan created) in the future. I first showed how we’re going to provide a Visual Studio design tool for creating what we call a Composition Model. The Composition Model is simply a declarative way of representing the relationships and metadata for the services your app uses. Here’s a screenshot of the Composition Model for the app that Don and Jonathan created earlier in the keynote.
While creating the model I also introduced a new service we call the Container which provides a host for running workflows in the cloud. I know many developers have been asking about running workflows since we introduce the functionality back in early 2008 and then pulled it later that year. We decided not to provide workflow functionality at the time, since we wanted to use the .NET Framework 4. The new workflow support in the cloud now uses the .NET Framework 4 workflow engine – in fact it’s the same runtime and same Visual Studio tools for creating and running the workflow. What we introduced at PDC is that we’re going to manage the hosting of the workflows for you, so you don’t have to stand up your own persistence database, create your own tracking database, start the workflow host yourself, etc.
After creating the model in Visual Studio, I also showed a new service called a Composition Service that can automate the provisioning, configuration, and monitoring of all the services your app consumes by using the metadata from the Composition Model. For instance, since the model indicated that we’re going to use a SQL Azure Database, the Access Control Service, and the Caching service – all of these services were turned on and configured for us. In the initial release we will have a pool of pre-running Windows Azure instances to run your application code – so that you can quickly deploy your application and easily add and remove instances to your application without waiting on the instances to startup up. These instances will also be managed by the Composition Service. Consequently, I was able to show how we could deploy and run the app quickly using a pool of instances.
Finally, I showed how you will have the ability to monitor and manage the application from an online portal. As you can see in the below screenshot, because the information about the application is represented in the Composition Model, the Composition Service running in the cloud can know what metrics to monitor to determine if your app is healthy. It can also monitor the dependent services that you’re consuming.
It is important to understand that the the real value of the Composition Model and Composition Service is not a drag-and-drop designer in Visual Studio – instead the real value will come from the automation that we can provide in the cloud because we know more about your app, such as auto-scaling out your application.
If you attended the PDC in 2009 or watched the keynote online, you may have noticed that we showed some similar concepts in Doug Purdy’s demo at PDC09. The AppFabric team has been making a lot of great progress on delivering against the vision we first started showing in 2009. We are planning to release the first CTP of the Composition Model and Composition Service in the first half of 2011.
In the meantime if you want to learn more about the Composition Model and Composition Service, check out Karandeep Anand’s session where he drills into more detail. Also be sure to follow Wade Wegner’s blog. Wade is the Technical Evangelist on my team for these services. He led the development of the PDC keynote demo and I’m sure he’ll be sharing more about these services once the CTP is available.
Since then Vittorio has been working on building out the demo to be an example of a SaaS ISV scenario, complete with provisioning and payment integration. The sample is now available for download or you can also view the sample online and provision your own application instances! There are a ton of features in this sample. I’m not going to do it justice describing it here, so be sure to read Vittorio’s post and check out http://www.fabrikamshipping.com.
I’ll be straight forward. These are challenging positions. A Technical Evangelist position is not for everyone. We’re looking for a blend of deep development, leadership, communication, and creative skills. Great technical evangelists have a blend of these skills. Many other evangelists in the community today don’t meet our bar. These positions are for an elite few. Does this mean you must already be a great “evangelist” to apply? No – absolutely not. But you do need to have the right foundational skills and the desire to learn and grow.
If you have what it takes then Technical Evangelism can be an very exciting and rewarding position at Microsoft. Technical Evangelism plays a central role with the engineering, marketing, and field organizations to help release new emerging technologies. We ultimately are responsible for influencing Microsoft’s technical strategy. Drew Robbins, the lead for Visual Studio and Web Evangelism on my team, has posted a great blog entry with more details about the Technical Evangelist role.
Do you think you have what it takes to join the team of elite Technical Evangelists? Do you want to play a central role in the next major releases of Windows Azure, Visual Studio, and the .NET Framework? Then please contact me.
You can download the updated Windows Azure Platform Training Kits from here.
If you’re not familiar with the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit, it is essentially a collection of hands-on labs, presentations, and demos that are designed to help you learn how to use the Windows Azure platform including Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and the Windows Azure AppFabric. Our Technical Evangelism team at Microsoft builds training kits for almost every key technology including Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4, Windows Phone 7, Silverlight 4, SQL Server 2008 R2, and so on.
With this release of the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit we first decided to split up the training kit into two separate versions – one for Visual Studio 2010 and another for Visual Studio 2008. We actually branched the kit back in mid August. Moving forward we will only be updating content and building new content for Visual Studio 2010. This decision was based on several factors including the size of the kits (combined they’re over 331MB compressed) and the test surface (we were testing 4 different combinations of languages, frameworks, and tools).
The September release is a huge update. Here’s what’s new in the training kit:
I hope you find this release helpful. Is there someone else you would like to see in the training kit? Are you using the training kit today to learn how to use the Windows Azure Platform? Do you have other suggestions for improving the content? We would love to hear from you. Just leave me a comment or drop the team an email with your feedback.
Having the ability to monitor Windows Azure applications from System Center Operations Manager is a key requirement that I’ve heard from many customers. I haven’t played with the MP since we included it in the TechEd North America keynote demo. It looks like the team added several key features to give more insight into the applications running in Windows Azure. Here are the key features described in the readme:
I also encourage you to check out the Windows Azure MMC management tool and the Windows Azure Powershell cmdlets that Ryan Dunn created. These are designed primarily for configuration instead of monitoring, however, they can be very helpful for automating and simplifying the management of your Windows Azure applications.
So who am I? I’m a Senior Director at Microsoft in the corporate Developer & Platform Evangelism (DPE) group. I lead a team of technical evangelist that focus on several key technologies including the Windows Azure Platform, SQL Server, Visual Studio, and the .NET Framework. Basically my team is responsible for helping developers understand how to use new developer tools and technologies. So if you’re going to PDC, downloading a training kit, or watching a Channel9 video for one of these technologies – chances our someone on my team is involved. Over the last 2.5 years I’ve been focusing most of my time defining Microsoft’s technical strategy for the cloud, which has surfaced in keynotes at some of Microsoft’s major conferences such as PDC, TechEd, and Mix. I plan to use this new blog to share more about the above technologies and to highlight some of the new resources coming from the evangelism team. Stay tuned.