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July 2014

Volume 29 Number 7

Editor's Note : Introducing Azure Web Sites Services

Michael Desmond | July 2014

Michael DesmondIn case you haven’t noticed, Microsoft has been rather busy lately updating and improving its Microsoft Azure cloud platform. I suppose this is what happens when you lure Scott Guthrie over to lead the Azure group at Microsoft (his latest job title: executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise group). This is the guy, after all, who helped push the .NET Developer Division into fast-forward, and who helped invent a little thing you might’ve heard of called ASP.NET.

So it should be no surprise that things are hopping for developers in the Azure division at Microsoft. A spate of recent announcements, including plenty of new features and capabilities unveiled at the Microsoft Build conference in April, illustrate the point. To help developers digest all the new information, this issue of MSDN Magazine is focused on Microsoft Azure, and specifically on developing for Azure Web Sites. A package of five feature articles explores how developers can leverage the updated Azure platform to create and deliver powerful, scalable and manageable applications for the Web, quickly and efficiently.

The features lead off with Yochay Kiriaty’s “Scaling Your Web Application with Azure Web Sites,” which shows how to modify Web applications to run across multiple instances and geographies. Next, Apurva Joshi and Sunitha Muthukrishna offer lessons in resilience, as they guide you through optimizing Web applications to weather the challenges of the sometimes-hostile cloud environment.

But wait, there’s more. “Building a Node.js and MongoDB Web Service” and “Hybrid Connectivity: Connecting Azure Web Sites to LOB Apps Using PortBridge,” both by Tejaswi Redkar, offer wonderful insight into some intriguing use cases. The first article shows how to build a Node.js Web site that draws data from an Azure-hosted MongoDB database, while the second describes how to link and leverage cloud-based Azure Web Sites and on-premises LOB applications. James Chambers closes out the action with his feature, “Teaching from the Cloud,” which offers a great content-heavy development scenario, in this case developing an e-learning Azure Web Site.

A key figure in all this is Erez Benari, program manager for IIS and Microsoft Azure Web Sites and the guy who helped us pull together this month’s special issue focused on Azure Web Sites. I recently caught up with Benari and asked about the advancements in Azure Web Sites. He talked about new features, such as traffic manager integration, backup and restore, and support for multiple deployment slots, as well as the expansion of Azure into new regions. The changes,
Benari says, make Azure Web Sites a “strong offering for large-scale deployments and enterprise customers.”

One intriguing aspect of developing for Azure and Azure Web Sites is the immediacy of the experience, which in a sense is changing the relationship between developers and their code. These applications aren’t bundled up and thrown over a wall for testing, deployment and use. They’re tested in situ, deployed in the blink of an eye, and updated and revised based on real-time telemetry.

Benari says the rapid model demands that developers think like testers and see the big picture. They must go beyond wondering if their code will work and figure out how to quickly fix code with minimal downtime.

“This kind of thinking calls for implementing live-diagnostic information in the code to allow the developer to obtain diagnostic and forensic input from the application as it’s being deployed and tested, as well as apply techniques like A/B testing that allow the developer to gather comparative data in real time,” Benari says. “Ultimately, it’s a matter of responsibility, and as developers get used to being fully accountable (which could sometimes mean a 2:00 a.m. phone call to fix a bug), the quality of software across the board improves, making for a better world for our customers.”

Are you on board for this new world? Let me know your thoughts on developing for Microsoft Azure and Azure Web Sites. E-mail me at

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.