New cloud development tools in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (VS 2010) promise .NET developers a fast track to building, debugging and deploying cloud-centric Web applications and services. But how easy will it be for developers who have been using Visual Studio 2008 to build standard applications to use Windows Azure tools in tandem with VS 2010? Jim Nakashima, Microsoft Cloud Computing Tools program manager, answered questions about VS 2010-Azure tools usability in interview with Jan Stafford, SearchWinDevelopment editorial director.
In what ways do new Visual Studio 2010 features simplify building applications for cloud environments?
Jim Nakashima: After enabling the Windows Azure Tools, Visual Studio 2010 makes developing scalable Web applications and services that run on Windows Azure straightforward for any ASP.NET developer.
The Windows Azure development experience in Visual Studio 2010 will be immediately familiar to any developer who has used Visual Studio in the past. It’s possible to quickly get started with project templates that make it easier to create a Windows Azure Cloud Service, Windows Azure configuration, integration with the Windows Azure development simulation and Windows Azure specific build and packaging.
What should developers know about the Azure framework that can help them understand what the tools are doing?
Nakashima: Windows Azure configuration sets up the composition and interaction between the components of the cloud service and the Windows Azure development simulation allows the developer to run their cloud service locally on the development machine in the same way it will run in the cloud.
In other words, the developer can use Visual Studio 2010 to create Windows Azure cloud service projects, add and configure Web and worker roles using a number of different project templates and run and debug on a local development simulation of the cloud and package their application for deployment. When building cloud applications, the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio 2010 allows the developer to not have to do any of these activities manually.
What differences in builds with VS2010 and Azure might pose adoption challenges for some ASP.NET or .NET developers?
Nakashima: For the most part, Windows Azure allows a developer to leverage their existing ASP.NET, .NET and Visual Studio skills and assets, if necessary they need to adapt their applications to be stateless applications that scale out across multiple machines.
In order to be stateless, the developer needs to ensure that the application data is stored in a location that is accessible by all of the instances that are running that application. SQL Azure, and Windows Azure storage fit that bill perfectly. The developer will need to determine whether to use SQL Azure, Windows Azure storage or a combination of both and that decision is highly dependent on the type of data the application will use, a cost, performance and ease of migration evaluation is recommended.