Legacy Applications Running on Windows Azure

Many applications running today require access to the NTFS APIs in Windows. A major requirement of getting these applications to run in the cloud is to not break the application dependencies on these NTFS APIs. For this reason, Microsoft is building something called the Windows Azure Drive which is currently in beta.

You can find a more comprehensive look in this Windows Azure whitepaper.

This will allow businesses to gain the advantages of the cloud while leveraging existing software investments. This could be a niche for cloud computing that a lot of small IT shops could profit from, by proposing and implementing this for clients, all the while saving clients money by decreased server administration costs and increasing availability of applications. As usually, there will also be the need for IT experts in dealing with the risks of who owns and controls data stored in the cloud, what exit strategies are planned for in the case cloud computing does not work out, and other risks so that customers can explore new opportunities while protecting themselves.

Microsoft Entity Framework Connection String

I was recently creating a Windows Azure app and used the Microsoft Entity Framework. If you have used LINQ to SQL or the SQL Client in ADO.NET before then you will be use to setting a connection string in your web.config file. The Entity Framework has a connection string also, but it is different from what LINQ to SQL or the SQL Client uses. This is important to keep in mind when you are creating your data access logic in a separate project that compiles into a separate assembly. You will obviously have to reference your assembly containing the Entity Framework data access components in your main project, but you will also have to bring over the connection string. This might be important to know if you are ever configuring an application at a customer site and are not copying a Entity Framework connection string directly from your dev machine’s web.config file. Below is a sample Entity Framework connection string.

metadata=res://*/[EntityModelName].csdl|res://*/[EntityModelName].ssdl|res://*/[EntityModelName]\.msl;provider=System.Data.SqlClient;provider connection string=”[SQL CONNECTION STRING GOES HERE]”

Notice the connection string references three embedded resource files with a .csdl, .ssdl and .msl file extension. These different files are required and by default are compiled into the assembly as resource files. Replace the [EntityModelName] with the name of the model you created in your Visual Studio project. The very last part of the Entity Framework connection string is the actual SQL connection string.

Trust is Social Networking’s Next Big Thing

Trust is social networking’s next big challenge and next big opportunity. Openness can be a good thing, but like everything it has it’s contexts that it is valuable for and contexts where it does harm. Think of the world of openness we live in now with social networking sites. While they serve a purpose and provide value under certain contexts, we are aware that there is also value in confidentiality. The balance of the need for openness and for confidentiality comes down to trust. Many of the social networking sites grew big fast because they were open and people saw the size of the networks as the value. While this can be valuable, providing an experience that can be trusted in openness and confidentiality will be how social networks grow in the future. Platforms that are only open and cannot be trusted, will shrink as users become more educated.