Steve Spencer's Blog

Blogging on Azure Stuff

Using Azure Storage SDK outside of Azure

When trying to access the Azure Storage SDK in a non-Azure application I kept getting the following error:

 

“The type or namespace name 'WindowsAzure' does not exist in the namespace 'Microsoft' (are you missing an assembly reference?)    “

 

References to Microsoft.WindowsAzure.ServiceRuntime and Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient were both already included as references to the assembly that was trying to store data in a table. After a bit of investigation the reason for the error was that the assembly was set to have the target framework of “.Net Framework 4 Client Profile”. Changing to “.Net Framework 4” solved the problem.

Windows Azure Roles Fail to run when deployed to Azure

Recently I was helping out at the Azure Bootcamp in London and during the labs a common theme kept occurring when the labs were deployed to a real Azure account. The roles failed to run and it appeared that the deployment was taking forever.  This is something I experienced first hand when I was starting out with Azure. There is a way to diagnosing these deployment errors and it is by using IntelliTrace. During deployment you can enable IntelliTrace as part of the publish dialog

image

The IntelliTrace option is only available if you have Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate. Once deployed to Azure the Roles will attempt to start and any errors during this phase will lead to the symptoms mentioned above. You can then connect to your Azure environment using the Server Explorer in Visual Studio to retrieve the IntelliTrace files which can be opened in Visual Studio and show any exceptions that may have been thrown. Further information can be found here. Once you have diagnosed your issue please ensure at you then disable the IntelliTrace by redeploying the fixed application as it will have a negative impact on performance if left enabled.

 

Getting back to the problem we have at the Bootcamp, the issues was that the deployed application was trying to writing information to Azure storage and the connection string was still pointing to Development storage. This was strange because none of the deployed applications had got to the Azure storage part of the lab so you would have thought that there was no need for a connection string. Luckily I had the exact same problem with one of my earlier deployments and it turns out that when a project is created the Diagnostic plug-in is automatically enabled. The diagnostic plug-in requires its own connection string to Azure storage so that the diagnostic information can be stored. Looking at the role configuration in Visual Studio you can see the Diagnostic plug-in configuration.

image

To fix the deployment issue click the button next to the connection string text box and enter the details of your Azure Storage account.

image

You will need to redeploy the application or upload the new ServiceConfiguration.cscfg to fix this issue. If this still does not resolve the issue then try disabling the Diagnostics plug-in and redeploy.

Windows Azure Announcements

AppFabric

Microsoft have announced two new Azure AppFabric CTPs.

 

May 2011 CTP will include Service bus enhancements including

  • A more comprehensive pub/sub messaging
  • Integration with the Access Control Service V2
  • Queues based upon a new messaging infrastructure backed by a replicated, durable store.

See here for more details.

June 2011 CTP will include tooling to help with building, deploying and managing Windows Azure Applications including:

  • AppFabric Developer Tools
  • AppFabric Application Manager
  • Composition Model

See here for more details

SQL Azure

The SQL May 2011 update contains the following:

  • SQL Azure Management REST API – a web API for managing SQL Azure servers.
  • Multiple servers per subscription – create multiple SQL Azure servers per subscription.
  • JDBC Driver – updated database driver for Java applications to access SQL Server and SQL Azure.
  • DAC Framework 1.1 – making it easier to deploy databases and in-place upgrades on SQL Azure.

See here for more details

Deploying Access Control Service enabled web application in Windows Azure

When deploying an Access Control Service enabled web application from my development environment to Windows Azure I got the following error:

“Unable to find assembly ‘Microsoft.IdentityModel, Version=3.5.0.0. . .”

image

This had worked well when running in the development fabric on my machine so it was strange that it failed when deployed to Windows Azure. The reason why this file cannot be found is because on my machine it is installed in the GAC and it is not in the GAC when deployed in Azure. There is a simple way to fix this and it is by configuring a Start-up task in your ServiceDefinition.csdef file to install the Microsoft.IdentityModel assembly in the GAC. When a new instance is created within Windows Azure the start up task will be run to allow things to be installed into the virtual machine prior to running your application.

Steve Marx has written an introduction to Start-up tasks as well as a Tips, Tricks and Gotchas list.

 

This post explains how to create a Start-up task to add an assembly to the GAC.

Error calling Azure Access Control Management Service

I’ve been developing a web application that adds rules to the access control service when a user registers with my website. This was working well using the ACS in AppFabricLabs. When I ported across to ACS V2 in the live environment I kept getting an exception thrown whenever I tried to retrieve information via the management service api.

The exception details are

The remote server returned an error: (400) Bad Request.

Status = protocol error

After investigation by looking at the latest ACS code samples on MSDN I noticed that the protocol has actually changed in the Common assembly ManagementServiceHelper.cs class. Comparing the code and copying the changes across to mine fixed the problems.

I also noticed that today that AppfabricLabs was updated last night and now uses the same protocol as V2 Live so you will need to make these changes anyway.

Windows Azure SDK 1.4 released

The Windows Azure SDK 1.4 refresh is available which adds in Web Deploy integration. This allows the developers to increase their productivity by using web deploy rather than having to repackage and redeploy the application. It is available for down load here and click the “Get Tools & SDK” button. Further information on this release can be found here

MSDN subscribers now get more Windows Azure Platform benefits

If you are an MSDN subscriber (Ultimate or Premium) you now get more Windows Azure resources. Professional subscribers are now also included in the promotion.

See here for more details. If you have already taken up this offer and you are an MSDN Premium subscriber then you will automatically be upgraded to the MSDN Ultimate offer.

 

In order to activate your benefits

  • Sign-in to your MSDN benefits page
  • Click on the Windows Azure Platform link from My Account and follow the steps to activate Windows Azure (for limited free access). You'll need your credit card or follow the Steps to set up invoicing for Windows Azure to sign up. If you use more than the amount of services included with your MSDN subscription, you will be billed to your card for these overages. You can visit the Microsoft Online Services Customer Portal to look up your usage at any time.
  • Go to the Windows Azure Developer Portal to access your Windows Azure subscription
  • Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control and Cache Services Commercial Release

    The first production version of the windows Azure caching service and a new production version of the Access Control service have been released. The following link provides the necessary information

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazureappfabric/archive/2011/04/11/announcing-the-commercial-release-of-windows-azure-appfabric-caching-and-access-control.aspx

    In conjunction the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit and the Identity Developer Training Kit have both also been updated.

     

    The Windows Azure Platform Training Kits adds some new labs:

  • Authenticating Users in a Windows Phone 7 App via ACS, OData Services and Windows Azure lab
  • Windows Azure Traffic Manager lab
  • Introduction to SQL Azure Reporting Services lab
  • Azure SDK 1.4 Released

    The Azure SDK has been released and is available here

    The changes are as follows:

    • Resolved an issue that caused full IIS fail when the web.config file was set to read-only.
    • Resolved an issue that caused full IIS packages to double in size when packaged.
    • Resolved an issue that caused a full IIS web role to recycle when the diagnostics store was full.
    • Resolved an IIS log file permission Issue which caused diagnostics to be unable to transfer IIS logs to Windows Azure storage.
    • Resolved an issue preventing csupload to run on x86 platforms.
    • User errors in the web.config are now more easily diagnosable.
    • Enhancements to improve the stability and robustness of Remote Desktop to Windows Azure Roles.

    One of the changes fixes the issue I blogged in CommunicationObjectFaultedException after checking an Azure project in to TFS