The Windows Server Notebook

Mar 2 2010   7:26PM GMT

Microsoft AppFabric takes next step toward official release

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

The second beta for Microsoft’s new Windows Server AppFabric technology is now available for download, and the company is encouraging those who give it a test drive to send along their feedback. Microsoft is eying Q3 of this year for the official launch for AppFabric, and has noted that any suggestions from those using .NET 4 and Windows Server before that delivery date are welcome.

Right about now you might be thinking, “Hey that’s great – so what exactly is AppFabric?”


Formerly, codenamed Dublin, AppFabric is a new application platform that Microsoft first announced at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in November. It comes in two flavors: Windows Azure and Windows Server. Focusing on the Windows Server side, the idea is to provide services that simplify the building and managing of Web, enterprise and composite apps running on Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS). The software combines two previous technologies (codenamed Velocity and the aforementioned Dublin), to create what Microsoft described as a way to provide “out-of-the-box capabilities for [developers and IT professionals] to easily build and manage composite applications.”

In a company blog post, Microsoft stated that many of those who downloaded the original beta have reported “significantly increased performance … and improved availability and reliability for their most demanding applications.” In regards to availability and scalability, the company is touting AppFabric’s in-memory cache functionality, which Brandon Watson, Director of Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform Ecosystem, described as a potential “game-changer.”

This high-availability caching capability makes up the part of AppFabric that was formerly called Velocity, which was designed in response to some of the cache issues facing enterprises today. Bayer White, a Microsoft Connected Systems MVP, described the scalability and availability benefits in detail in a January blog post. He said that an AppFabric caching cluster is fairly simple to set up, after which “data no longer has to be pulled from the database consistently,” meaning that “business downtime is not as high when servers go down.”

Sam Gentile, another Connected Systems MVP, described the merging of Microsoft’s Dublin technology together with Velocity’s in-memory cache capabilities as something that “makes perfect sense”:

“By bringing in the capabilities formerly in code-name Dublin, AppFabric provides host capabilities for .NET 4.0 Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation services, with extended management through the IIS manager, plus the ability to do service monitoring. This is much needed functionality as V1 (V3.0) and V2 (3.5) of both WCF and WF didn’t ship with much tooling – you had to roll out your own for hosting, monitoring, management and so forth.”

More information on AppFabric for Windows Server can be found here, and the new beta is available now from the Microsoft Download Center.

For more information on technologies relating to Internet Information Services, visit SearchWindowsServer.com.

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