Windows Server AppFabric Beta 2 Hits 'Feature Complete' Milestone

Microsoft released Beta 2 of its AppFabric for Windows Server 2008 R2, an extension to Internet Information Services, designed to support composite applications. This test build, described as "feature complete" for version 1, supports the Visual Studio 2010/.NET Framework 4 Release Candidates. The version 1 release is expected by Q3, according to Microsoft.

Windows Server AppFabric, a middle services layer for building and monitoring ASP.NET, Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow apps, was announced at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in November. The on-premises technology announcement was made in conjunction with the introduction of the Windows Azure AppFabric, a counterpart for the cloud meant to bridge on-premises Windows Server and cloud applications. The Azure AppFabric (formerly .NET Services) consists of a Service Bus and Access Control.

The on-premises AppFabric integrates in-memory cache services (formerly codenamed "Velocity") and WCF and WF app services (formerly "Dublin"), which take advantage of advances in .NET 4. More than 8,000 developers have downloaded Beta 1, which was released at PDC. The Associated Press, Bentley and Jettainer are among the early adopters, according to Microsoft.

Windows Server AppFabric Beta 2 adds hosting and management functionality, enhances cache services, and improves the persistence subsystem, which is designed to store the workflow state and enable "durable" (long running) workflows, according to Microsoft. The persistence subsystem consists of a Persistence Framework API, SQL WorkFlow Instance Store, SQL Persistence Database and Workflow Management Service.

According to a blog posting today by Microsoft's AppFabric team, which outlines the new functionality and the anticipated release timeframe:

"For this release we focused on building a provider model for persistence, monitoring, and cache configuration stores. In our Beta 1 release we supported only the SQL Server based persistence and monitoring providers that we shipped and supported only an XML file based or SQL Server based cache configuration store. In Beta 2 we now also support providers for other database platforms or for other types of stores, in the case of persistence and cache configuration."

Microsoft cautions developers to follow a specific procedure to avoid installation problems, namely uninstalling Windows Server AppFabric Beta 1 before uninstalling .NET Framework 4 Beta 2 and installing the RC -- otherwise removal will fail.

Despite the commercial release of Windows Azure and SQL Azure at the beginning of February, the Windows Azure AppFabric is free until next month for commercial users of Microsoft's cloud. A new pricing structure was announced for the Azure AppFabric services in January.

Download Windows Server AppFabric Beta 2 here.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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