Cloud Development Quickstart

I have been learning about working with Windows Azure for the past two weeks and have run into my share of challenges. Getting up to speed with the tools has taken quite a bit of work and there have many pitfalls towards getting an environment running to work with the Cloud. In this post I am going to mention some things I have done to get a cloud environment rolling so that others can use this as a guide.
First, you need to get all of the relevant software together to use Windows Azure. Here is an install list I went through to have everything to get started. This is helpful because the .NET Services SDK that was released after PDC has updated functionality. Some of what I have done for my environment is a little outside of the setup directions but was the most useful for me:

Then there is some additional configuration to do to get the Azure SDK to use your SQL Server instance other than SQL Express which is the default. A few posters had mentioned this technique but there were a few missing steps. Follow these steps to get the Azure SDK to use your local SQL 2008 instance (or a different one):

  • Open Windows Explorer to c:Program FilesWindows Azure SDKv1.0bin and find the DevelopmentStorage.exe.config file.
  • Modify this file so that it refers to your local SQL 2008 instance such as:

add name=DevelopmentStorageDbConnectionStringconnectionString=Data Source=benc-vistabase;Initial Catalog=DevelopmentStorageDb;Integrated Security=TrueproviderName=System.Data.SqlClient />

add key=ClientSettingsProvider.ServiceUri value=“” />

service name=Bloburl=>
service name=Queueurl=>
service name=Tableurl= dbName=developmentstoragedb/>

  • Then open the Development Storage by going to Start Menu -> All Programs -> Windows Azure SDK -> Development Storage. This will start running the storage services and you will see an gray box icon in the tray. Right-click on this and click to open the Storage UI. The first time you do this it will ask to run some administrative tasks to create the database specified in the config file above.
  • This will get the Blob and Queue services running but the Table will start and then stop. You will need to specify a different database for the Table storage. One that works is the ReportServer database installed with SQL 2008. In the Development Storage you can click Tools -> Table service properties and then choose the ReportServer database. This can be changed later, but to get the Table service running this is a temporary workaround.
  • Then check the Table service and stop and restart the service and it will then no longer stop after a few seconds.
Then you will need to get the Azure codes so that the two administration sites work for testing in the cloud.  After you get the code and validate them then you can associate your accounts with Windows Live Ids. Finally you will be able to access the Cloud administration sites. Unfortunately, there are 2 different cloud administration sites so be prepared to spend some time getting used to the user interfaces. Here are the starting links for the 2 cloud administration sites: for Windows Live and for .NET Services. Understanding that there are two different cloud administration sites can be hard at first. The Azure MMC provides a simpler interface for working with the .NET Services administration so this is strongly recommended as well.
Next you should start learning about the Cloud using the brief MSDN documentation like the Quick Lap around Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio ( This will get you started on the Cloud development samples as well as actually deploying services to the Microsoft Cloud. 
I wanted to mention one site I have been following for Cloud news is This site provides some really helpful information across the new Cloud industry especially considering Amazon’s Cloud offerings and recent Windows Azure updates. Once you get your hands dirty with the Cloud setup, I have found that getting a broader awareness of the Cloud industry pretty helpful.
The capabilities provided with the Cloud platform are enormous, but unfortunately the ramp up to using them at this point is steep. This blog post provided a checklist of things to do to get rolling on an environment for working with Cloud services. Let me know if you have any questions with this information. Thanks!

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