A while back, mashups were all the rage. The idea was to compose solutions that provided aggregation and integration across applications and services to make information more available, useful, and personal. Mashups ushered in the era of Web 2.0 in all it’s socially connected goodness. They taught us that to be successful, we needed to add web service APIs to our web applications.
Web and client based mashups met with great success and have evolved even further with the introduction of the internet connected smartphone. Nothing is more available, useful, or personal than our smartphones. The current generation of cloud connected mobile computing mashups allow our mobilized workforces to receive, process, and react to information from disparate sources faster than ever before.
- Time to market
Here’s a sketch of a prototypical mobile computing solution using Windows Azure:
- Web Role – with the phone running a dedicated client application, the web role is responsible for serving up backend web services that implement the solution’s core connected functionality.
- Database – used to store core operational and workflow data for the solution’s web services.
- Access Control – this service is used to authenticate and manage users identity, roles, and groups, possibly in conjunction with 3rd identity providers such as Windows LiveID, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook.
- Worker Role – this role is used to handle the orchestration of long-running, complex, asynchronous operations. While much of the integration and interaction with other services can be handled directly by the mobile client application, it’s possible that the backend may need to integrate with 3rd party services as well. Offloading this work to a worker role better distributes computing resources and keeps the web roles focused on direct client interaction.
- Queues – these provide reliable, persistent messaging between applications and processes. They are an absolute necessity once asynchronous processing is involved. Queues facilitate the flow of distributed events and allow a solution to send push notifications back to mobile devices at appropriate times.
Training & Resources
These links point to online Windows Azure training labs and resources where you can learn more about the individual ingredients described above. (Note: The entire Windows Azure Training Kit can also be downloaded for offline use.)
| ||Windows Azure (16 labs) |
Windows Azure is an internet-scale cloud computing and services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services which can be used individually or together. It gives developers the choice to build web applications; applications running on connected devices, PCs, or servers; or hybrid solutions offering the best of both worlds. New or enhanced applications can be built using existing skills with the Visual Studio development environment and the .NET Framework. With its standards-based and interoperable approach, the services platform supports multiple internet protocols, including HTTP, REST, SOAP, and plain XML
| ||SQL Azure (7 labs) |
Microsoft SQL Azure delivers on the Microsoft Data Platform vision of extending the SQL Server capabilities to the cloud as web-based services, enabling you to store structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data.
| ||Windows Azure Services (9 labs) |
As applications collaborate across organizational boundaries, ensuring secure transactions across disparate security domains is crucial but difficult to implement. Windows Azure Services provides hosted authentication and access control using powerful, secure, standards-based infrastructure.
| ||Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone |
The Windows Azure Toolkit for Windows Phone is designed to make it easier for you to build mobile applications that leverage cloud services running in Windows Azure. The toolkit includes Visual Studio project templates for Windows Phone and Windows Azure, class libraries optimized for use on the phone, sample applications, and documentation
| ||Windows Azure Toolkit for iOS |
The Windows Azure Toolkit for iOS is a toolkit for developers to make it easy to access Windows Azure storage services from native iOS applications. The toolkit can be used for both iPhone and iPad applications, developed using Objective-C and XCode.
| ||Windows Azure Toolkit for Android |
The Windows Azure Toolkit for Android is a toolkit for developers to make it easy to work with Windows Azure from native Android applications. The toolkit can be used for native Android applications developed using Eclipse and the Android SDK.
See my Windows Azure Resource Guide for more guidance on how to get started, including links web portals, training kits, samples, and blogs related to Windows Azure.