Python Ireland Dec Talks - Windows Azure -- The Nuts and Bolts


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Speaker: Stephen Fitzmaurice
With the Windows Azure platform, we get a highly scalable environment, pay only for the resources we need, and relieve subscribers of the responsibilities required for supporting dynamic software and hardware infrastructure.
This is an introductory talk to…
- Explain the foundation constituents of the Windows Azure Platform and the underlying infrastructure.
- Demonstrate the Cloud developer experience in Windows Azure.
- Showcase one of the early Windows Azure adopters revealing the reasons behind their choice, the flexibility that they are now empowered with and the success it has brought to their business.

Questions? You can contact Stephen at

Published in: Technology
1 Comment
  • Stephen's follow-up answers to questions:-

    1. Web Role V’s Worker role Clarification in Windows Azure

    A web role is intended to host customer or outward facing web applications in Azure. It usually involves hosting via IIS. Worker role is intended to perform back-end tasks, like continuous data processing. For example, one can have a multi-tier application, where users request processing of certain data (for example images). Web role would host a web site to handle the user interaction, store the data and to schedule asynchronous processing. Worker role would then pick up that scheduled task, do the processing and inform the web role it is finished. For details, see:

    2. HTTP / FTP / HTTPS Support in Windows Azure?

    HTTP/HTTPS are fully supported out of the box. FTP is not. However, one can create a custom FTP server as an Azure web or worker role if one desires so.

    3. Can the Python Client communicate directly with the storage system in Windows Azure?

    Yes. Azure storage services expose an HTTP interface that can be accessed from any language that can create an HTTP connection. So either a custom solution is possible for Python, or an existing Python wrapper can be used ( that is developed by one of the members of the Azure team.

    4. Can you store data by posting to a URL?

    Yes. Azure storage services are RESTful, which means that they use requests to specially crafted URLs for storage and retrieval of files. In this case, one would use a PUT request. More details about the storage APIs can be found at

    5. What is the difference between SQL and SQL Azure?

    SQL Azure uses the same query language (T-SQL) and same interface as the plain SQL. However, since it is hosted in the cloud, there are no concepts of mirroring, and administration and provisioning is handled differently. Most of the time, existing SQL code can be used on SQL Azure. SQL Azure has quotas for maximum storage though (around 50GB per database) for scalability purposes. For full details, check the doc at:

    6. Segmentation on available processor time?

    Usually there is none. Every service instance has its own dedicated VM, with at least one dedicated CPU (more for larger instances). The exception to this rule is ExtraSmall instance size which shares CPU cores. It is currently in beta phase, and unfortunately I don’t have information on CPU sharing policies. For specs on the instance profiles (CPU, RAM, etc.) see:

    7. Is CDN usage variable?

    I do not understand what is meant by ‘variable usage’? CDN provides the shortest round trip time possible for content hosted on Azure from different parts of the world by caching it close to the end-user, effectively speeding up web downloads and web site browsing from Azure several times. The price is variable, depending on the region of the world where the traffic comes from (one price for North America/Europe and another for Asia Pacific region). For details on CDN and its pricing see:

    8. Are there free trials of Windows azure for individuals

    At the moment, anyone can download the Azure simulation environment (called Development Fabric) for free, and develop and execute Azure applications on a local machine. The real environment does not have a free option yet (mostly due to the cost required to build, deploy and maintain whole VMs), but an Extra small instance option is in beta right now, due to be released later this year, which costs only 5 dollar cents per hour of uptime, which is affordable for development use. Also, MSDN subscribers get a free account and quota with their subscription. For standard business offers, see:
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Python Ireland Dec Talks - Windows Azure -- The Nuts and Bolts

  1. 1. “Microsoft Openness” “Windows Azure – The Nuts & Bolts” Liam Cronin Commercial Software Initiative Lead Stephen Fitzmaurice MSN
  2. 2. Overview… Microsoft Openness We play well with others We listen to customers We are open in the cloud . “Nuts & Bolts” Terminology Workflow Patterns, Platform Overview & Components App Fabric SQL Azure Content Delivery Network Azure Interoperability Scaling & Virtual Machines (VMs) SDK & Environments Real-life Example Data Centre Q&A
  3. 3. The Openness Spectrum Who “owns” the word “Open” Google earns the bulk of openness mentions (Note: Google is not seen as the most “open” company) The media tends to classify companies based on where they fall on an openness spectrum Openness is equally important as product attributes in driving trust in the cloud ≠ Microsoft
  4. 4. Openness Messages… We play well with others We listen to customers We are open in the Cloud Standards,Open Source Microsoft + other technologies Languages, Data Infrastructure
  5. 5. Growth of the Open Source Ecosystem on Windows… 350,000 open source applications running on Windows today (up from 80,000 last year)* Open Source contribution (i.e. Hyper-V Linux Integration Components, Microsoft Live Services Plug-in for Moodle, Live Search Add-in for Mozilla Firefox) Growing number of commercial open source companies offering their customers open source solutions on Microsoft platforms (i.e., Zend, SugarCRM, Bitrix) On alone, there are more than: 8000 open source Projects or plug-ins for MS server products 3000 open source Projects or plug-ins for Windows 1533 open source Projects or plug-ins for SQL 1400 open source Projects or plug-ins for SharePoint 600 open source Projects or plug-ins for Dynamics 500 open source Projects of plug-ins for Office Open Source Technology Center: 400+ servers, over 340+ Linux Distributions for testing interoperability OSS and Windows Technologies
  6. 6. AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) ANSI (American National Standards Institute) ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) CalConnect (The Calendaring & Scheduling Consortium) CCSA (China Communications Standards Association) CIPA (Camera Imaging Products Association) DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System Consortium) DDEX (Digital Data Exchange) DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) DMFT (Distributed Management Task Force) DSLF (DSL Forum) DTLA (Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator) DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) DVD Forum ECMA International ETSI (European Telecommunications Standardization Institute) The Green Grid GSMA (the GSM Association) HGI (Home Gateway Initiative) HL7 (Health Level Seven) HR-XML Consortium ICTSB (ICT Standards Board) IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) INCITS (InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards) Inria CAML Consortium ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number) ISO/IEC JTC 1 (International Organisation for Standardisation / International Electrotechnical Commission Joint Technical Committee) ISOC (Internet Society) ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union) MDTVA (Mobile DTV Alliance) NABA (North American Broadcasters Association) NFC (Near Field Communication Forum) OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) OMA (Open Mobile Alliance) OSTA (Optical Storage Technology Association) PS/SC Workgroup PCI-SIG (PCI Special Interest Group) PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) Project Inkwell PTSC (Packet Technologies and Systems Committee) PWG (The Printer Working Group) RosettaNet SDA (SD Card Association) SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) TCG (Trusted Computing Group) TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association) UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface Forum) UPnP (Universal Plug and Play Forum) USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Wi-Fi Alliance WiMAX Forum WiMedia Alliance WS-I (Web Services Interoperability Organization)
  7. 7. Openness & the Cloud… AtomPub SOAP WS-Eventing WS-Trust RSS Azure™ Platform REST SAML OpenID HTTP WS-Man
  8. 8. “The Nuts & Bolts”
  9. 9. Overview… Microsoft Openness We play well with others We listen to customers We are open in the cloud . “Nuts & Bolts” Terminology Workflow Patterns, Platform Overview & Components App Fabric SQL Azure Content Delivery Network Azure Interoperability Scaling & Virtual Machines (VMs) SDK & Environments Real-life Example Data Centre Q&A
  10. 10. Terminology… Data Centre Edge Computing Interoperability On-premise versus In The Cloud Scalability Software + Services Software as a Service (SaaS) Platform as a Service (Pass) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Virtualisation Virtual Machine (VM) Hyper-V Windows Azure Windows Server 2008 R2
  11. 11. Workflow Patterns… On & Off workloads (e.g. batch job) Over provisioned capacity is wasted Time to market can be cumbersome High used services need to grow/scale Matching growth is a big IT challenge Complex lead time for development Unexpected/unplanned peak in demand Sudden spike impacts performance Can’t over provision in extreme cases Services with predicable seasonal trends Peaks due to periodic increased demand IT complexity and wasted capacity
  12. 12. Everything as a Service… Platform As a Service Software As a Service Provides APIs Building Block Services Provider manages VMs and patches Requires a migration of apps Great opportunity for scalability Uses Virtual Machines (VMs) Consumer manages, patches and monitors machines Good for Legacy Apps Not great for scalability Web Front End to Software Multi-Tenant Logical Separation of data Very little customisation Commodity Infrastructure As a Service IT-Pros Devs End-Users
  13. 13. Everything as a Service… Platform As a Service Software As a Service Xbox Live Infrastructure As a Service Windows Azure Office 365 SharePoint IT-Pros Devs End-Users
  14. 14. “The Nuts & Bolts” Platform Overview
  15. 15. Azure Platform Overview… What are the high-level components involved? Cloud Applications (Apps) Windows Azure SQL Azure Azure Platform AppFabric On-Premise Applications & Operating Systems (OSs)
  16. 16. Azure Platform Overview… SQL Azure Cloud Apps Windows Azure AppFabric On-Premise Apps Other OSs
  17. 17. “The Nuts & Bolts” Platform Components
  18. 18. Azure Platform Components… App CDN Compute Storage Azure Fabric ...
  19. 19. Azure Platform Components… Compute Who is involved in the computation? Web Roles; Worker Roles Scalability (Multiple Instances) Develop with Microsoft and non-Microsoft tools: ASP.NET, WCF, other .NET tools, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.
  20. 20. Azure Platform Components… Storage What does Azure utilise for storing raw data and for communication between its roles? Blobs Tables Queues (for messaging) Azure Drive
  21. 21. Azure Platform Components… Azure Fabric Who is behind all the underlying management & infrastructure within the Date Centre (DC)? Compute & Storage Fabric Agents Fabric Controller
  22. 22. Azure Platform Components… Content Delivery Network (CDN) Edge Storage App CDN Compute Storage Fabric ...
  23. 23. “The Nuts & Bolts” AppFabric
  24. 24. Azure AppFabric… Service Bus Service Service Bus Service Application Application Service AccessControl Access Control Service SDS Authority
  25. 25. “The Nuts & Bolts” SQL Azure
  26. 26. SQL Azure… Core RDBMS as a Service Will develop over time What is the difference between ‘Azure’ and ‘SQL Azure’? Relational Database (DB) Accessed by Tabular Data Stream (TDS) Multiple DBs
  27. 27. “The Nuts & Bolts” Scaling & Virtual Machines
  28. 28. Scaling & Virtual Machines… How do I scale?
  29. 29. Scaling & Virtual Machines… What is a Virtual Machine (VM)?
  30. 30. “The Nuts & Bolts” SDK & Environments
  31. 31. SDK & Environments… Azure Software Development Kit (SDK) Local & Cloud Environments 2010
  32. 32. “The Nuts & Bolts” Real-life Example
  33. 33. Real-life Example…
  34. 34. Real-life Example… AerLingus + Azure Content Delivery Network
  35. 35. Real-life Example… . (Irish Music Rights Org) Claiming Unmatched (Musical) Performances Viewing Statements
  36. 36. Real-life Example…
  37. 37. Real-life Example…
  38. 38. Microsoft in the Cloud The Dublin Data Centre
  39. 39. The Dublin Data Centre…
  40. 40. Wrap-Up & BizSpark™
  41. 41. Microsoft BizSpark™ Microsoft BizSpark™is a global program designed to help accelerate the success of early stage startups, providing: Software Development tools and production licenses No upfront costs Support Community support from over 300 network and hosting partners Professional technical support from Microsoft Visibility Profile and promotion on the BizSparkDB Software Visibility Support
  42. 42. Microsoft BizSpark™ Entry Criteria Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service Privately held In business for less than 3 years Less than US $1 million in annual revenue There are no initial costs to join
  43. 43. Microsoft BizSpark™ Network Partners in Ireland/Northern Ireland NovaUCD
  44. 44. Wrap-Up… Microsoft Openness “We play well with others” “We listen to others” “We are open in the cloud”
  45. 45. Q&A
  46. 46. Appendix
  47. 47. Want to learn more about Azure?
  48. 48. Want to learn more about BizSpark™?