Passed 70-583 on Windows Azure

I just found out that I passed the Windows Azure beta exam! I took it back in November and have been waiting for such a long time to find out the results. I did hear that this exam will require re-certification every 2 years due to the constant rate of change of Azure.

For other people that have been waiting on their results, I checked the Prometric Candidate History and it changed from “Tested” to “Passed”. I had not yet gotten a “Congratulations on your new certification” email that usually comes. Apparently the results have been delayed for some reason.

— Update 2/18/2011 —
The exam is now showing on my Microsoft Transcript so the scoring process should be back to normal now.


Integrating BizTalk 2010 with CRM 2011 Online Organization Service


After making the post earlier today about how to interact with the CRM 2011 Online Discovery Service I remembered this was only part of the story. After getting the security information back from the discovery service it is necessary to call the organization service to work with the entities. Some of the organization service functionality is actually new to CRM 2011.

In CRM 4 the Discovery Service existed already but some aspects of the Organization Service are different. I found that the generation of the schemas for the organization service to also be more difficult.


The service URI for the organization service is but this only gives you part of the WSDL. If you take the WSDL from this address into Visual Studio it will not generate the BizTalk schemas successfully. In fact if you try to add a service reference using the WSDL from this address you will get an error and in the app.config will see comments mentioning that svcutil did not understand the policy assertions.

I looked at the WSDL generated from the above service reference and noticed there was a referenced WSDL file. So if you then try, this will give you the full body of the WSDL you actually need to generate the schemas. I copied the much longer WSDL file to my Sky Drive so you can generate your schemas based off of this: Here is the updated download with my generated artifacts: The organization service will generate quite a few port types.

When I tried compiling after generating the schemas for the organization service, I received a large number of errors. This also occurs when adding a service reference to the organization service. I have a feeling that you may need to reference a CRM assembly to reuse the types appropriately when generating the schemas, but I do not really know how this works at this point.


So now you have the schemas for how to call the Discovery and the Organization Services from BizTalk. It looks like all that is left is just an orchestration and a few ports once you can get the organization service schemas to compile. Thanks!

Azure: How to Check your Bill


I have been playing with the Azure toolset lately in preparation for taking beta exam 71-583, which is the MCPD (Pro) exam on Windows Azure technologies. I had worked with these technologies on and off over the past 2 years during the early releases. One thing I have heard from many people is that they will see a bill come in somewhat unexpectedly. During the early pre-production releases everything was free so I did not worry about the charges. I signed up with the cover of my MVP MSDN subscription but I did need to enter my credit card information in case of overages. It is like a hotel – you still have to give your credit card for the mini-bar, long-distance room calls and the movies on the tv.

One thing that seems to be relatively poorly documented is how to check your bill or tab. I gave this feedback on a recent MPRP study but apparently it has not gotten through about how many in the community seem to be stunned by the charges. So I thought it would be good to do a quick post on how to check your bill in the current Azure product. While some of the screenshots seem relatively self-explanatory, you do need to choose 5 links to drill down deep enough into the account details to actually get the meaningful charges information. This really should be easier.


  1. First, go to one of the Azure configuration portals, either at,, or If you have used the service, you should see a screen similar to the one for me below:
  2. Click on the “Billing” link in the upper right hand portion of the screen under your Windows Live Id.
  3. The next page displayed will be, which you could alternately go to directly. You will then need to authenticate again. After authenticating with your Windows Live ID the site will be shown similar to the picture below:
  4. So the next thing to do is to click on “View My Bills”. Again, this seems obvious but this is the only entry point I have found into this important report. A pop up window will open. The popup will load a list of your bills as shown for me below:
  5. Next you click on View Online Bill/Invoice. This will bring back an itemized list of your current charges. You can see my bill below. I have been using some of the Azure services but it is covered up to a point by my MSDN benefits:
  6. Finally you have to click on the links like AppFabrc Usage Charges, Data Transfer Usage Charges, or SQL Azure Usage Charges to get the real statistical information about how much you owe. For MSDN subscribers, this is where you check how many minutes you have left in your plan :). Below I show my charges for the data transfer:
  7. I tried taking the URL for this report and copying it out to a different browser session but was unsuccessful. I wish it were easier to see the expected charges or maybe get a text if I were about to be charged actual money. I wonder if there is a cloudapp for that.

Good luck managing your cloud accounts! Thanks,

Updated Cloud SDKs Out

I just got an email from the Windows Azure team that there are new SDK versions for the Windows Azure offerings. Unfortunately, SQL express is still listed as the database version for the fabric storage client. One cool improvement is the addition of a role in the platform for Silverlight.
Here are links to the updated (January 2009 CTP) SDKs:

There is a rainbow in the cloud! 🙂

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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