Windows Azure Step by Step – #bookreview

Windows Azure Step by Step
By Roberto Brunetti
(Microsoft Press, $34.99, paperback; $27.99, Kindle)

Windows Azure Step by Step, a new book from Microsoft Press, bills itself as a “hands-on, step-by-step guide to the programming fundamentals for Windows Azure.”

And it is, indeed, a good handbook for getting started with Windows Azure.

Cloud computing is still a new field for many programmers, so the book begins with a 14-page overview of how businesses big and small are approaching “the cloud.” According to the author, “The idea behind any cloud computing proposal is for you to pay only for what you use, scaling up or down according to business needs.” And there are three major approaches to cloud computing: Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and Platform as a Service.”

From there, Roberto Brunetti’s well-written and well-organized, 315-page book moves into a short introduction to the Windows Azure platform. By Chapter 3, it has the reader beginning a Windows Azure project using Software Development Kits (SDKs) and the Platform as a Service model.

The chapter line-up gives a good picture of the book’s range and coverage:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Cloud Computing
  • Chapter 2: Introduction to the Windows Azure Platform
  • Chapter 3: Creating a Web Role Project
  • Chapter 4: Windows Azure Storage
  • Chapter 5: Tables, Queues, and Worker Roles
  • Chapter 6: Windows Azure Operating System Details
  • Chapter 7: Building an AppFabric Solution
  • Chapter 8: WCF Data Services and OData
  • Chapter 9: Using SQL Azure
  • Chapter 10: Accessing Azure Services from Everywhere
  • Chapter 11: Application Architecture

Roberto Brunetti, a consultant, trainer and author, is cofounder of DevLeap, a company that focuses on educating and mentoring professional software developers. His book’s goal, he says, is “to aid .NET developers who want to start working with the components of the Windows Azure platform–from the operating system to SQL Azure and Windows Azure AppFabric.”

For best results, a “solid knowledge of the .NET Framework” will prove helpful toward “fully understanding the code examples and following the exercises using Visual Studio.”

Readers should note that all code examples in the book are written in C#. If you are not yet familiar with that programming language, the author recommends that you read Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Step by Step, written by John Sharp, before diving into this book.

The practice files in Windows Azure Step by Step can be downloaded from Microsoft, and a link is provided to get a fully searchable online edition of the paperback book.

To do the exercises in the book, the hardware and software requirements are:

  • A computer that can run Visual Studio 2010.
  • Internet connection.
  • One of the Windows 7 editions, Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2, or Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • Visual Studio 2010, any edition.
  • SQL Server 2005 Express Edition or higher (2008 or R2 release), with SQL Server Management Studio 2005 or higher (included with Visual Studio; Express Editions require separate download.)
  • To work with SQL Azure, SQL Server Management Studio 2008 R2 is required.

If you already have some experience with Windows Azure, this book may prove a bit too basic. But if you are new to the product and new to programming in the cloud computing universe, Windows Azure Step by Step definitely can show you how to get moving in the right direction, one key step at a time.

Si Dunn

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