15 Minute How-To Videos for Windows Azure Developers

Windows Azure Storage

AppFabric

Windows Azure Applications

Business Opportunity Around the Cloud and Access 2010

Many companies still use Microsoft Access for basic database operations in the office. Access 2010 now connects to SQL Azure which gives perfect opportunity for IT professionals to setup small business Access 2010 databases to interact with the cloud, adding value for the customer to use a familiar database tool and extend business operations into the cloud for added benefit. Some obvious benefits of the cloud is letting Microsoft’s cloud worry about backup and availability, scalability for customers that want to start with a small database but know that in the future they can expand as their company grows, and finally giving down-to-earth small business owners a practical way to get introduced to the benefits of the cloud without jumping off a cliff.

Access 2010 supports SQL Azure through the ODBC connector. The SQL Server Migration Wizard will lets database professionals migrate an existing SQL database to SQL Azure. If you have existing SQL CREATE scripts that you want to run in SQL Azure read my blog post on one modification you will want to make to your scripts, even if you’re using the latest SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2.

There are different SQL Azure packages to choose from including an Introductory Special that is free if you use under a certain amount, the best way to test how this works.

If you are a business that provides this service of hooking up a SQL Azure account and database for small businesses then feel free to leave your contact information in the comments section. Thanks.

Windows Azure Applications Running on the iPad

Because the iPad runs Safari, the tablet can run online applications, not just applications that are downloaded from iTunes. Windows Azure would be a great platform of scale to create an iPad-specific online application for. Windows Azure would be one of the fastest ways for a Microsoft .NET programmer to create applications for the iPad. Does anyone know of any iPad-specific websites or online applications that are running on Windows Azure? If so, please leave website info in the comments section below. Thanks!

Microsoft Windows Azure with 10,000+ Customers

Microsoft Windows Azure now has more than 10,000 customers according to ZD Net. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud operating system for web and enterprise developers to leverage existing .NET programming skills and investments while gaining the advantages of running applications in the cloud. It is promising that Microsoft is able to achieve 10,000 customers since its launch in February. This is an opportunity for new developers and businesses to innovate and make an impact in an emerging technology platform by leveraging existing independent-developer or enterprise-level .NET skills.

Microsoft also has 40+ million customers of it’s Online services which are pay-as-you-go online services like hosted Exchange and Dynamics, instead of software that you install on your own server.

These statistics are indicators that Microsoft is making the “cloud” a part of it’s core business with real paying customers, unlike some other web companies that have many users of free services but few actual customers. For business in the cloud to be sustainable it will need customers and profits, not just investments and costs for the web companies. Microsoft is proving that there are customers to be had in the new business world of the cloud.

Tip: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2 and SQL Azure

SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2 from Microsoft is the first version of Management Studio to support SQL Azure. I downloaded it and was somewhat surprised that one of the basic features did not work as expected. I expect these issues will be cleared up in the next version of the software, but for the time being you are going to have to know a nuance when using Management Studio to interact with SQL Azure databases. While I think the tools are currently lacking in some obvious ways, I am 100% convinced that learning SQL Azure and leveraging the cloud are valuable pursuits and expect the tools to improve over the course of future releases.

First, I expected Management Studio 2008 R2 to offer right-clicking a table inside a SQL Azure database and selecting Script Table As > Create To > New Query Editor Window. It does offer this feature, but the SQL that it generates disappointingly is not valid SQL for SQL Azure. Instead, after creating this script you’re going to have to remove the PAD_INDEX  = OFF because SQL Azure does not support this feature. My disappointment was not in SQL Azure supporting this feature, but in the fact that Management Studio 2008 R2 when connected to a SQL Azure database generates script that’s invalid for SQL Azure.

Also, if you are interested in taking a database you have locally and migrating it to SQL Azure then you might want to check out this SQL Azure migration tool. One of the main differences between SQL Server and SQL Azure that you have to plan for before migrating is that all SQL Azure database tables must have a clustered index.

Growing a Business Around Windows Azure

Below are some resources to help the newcomer grow a business around Windows Azure.

If anyone has some good sites to add then leave a comment. Thanks.