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In Search of Apps Powered by Windows Azure

Microsoft unveiled its Azure platform and cloud computing strategy to developers at its Professional Developers Conference last October. So what types of apps and services have developers built and tested on Azure?

The Windows Azure Gallery showcases numerous samples, but the majority are not line-of-business apps.

The first external Azure app from Microsoft appeared in beta in late June. Called Microsoft Hohm, it is designed to help consumers monitor their home energy consumption and ultimately save money. The free online beta app, which requires a Windows Live ID and zip code, is currently available only to U.S. residents.

Troy Batterberry, the product unit manager of the Energy Management & Home Automation division at Microsoft, explained the origination of Hohm (formerly codenamed Niagara) in a July blog post and noted that it was built on Azure:

"All of this complex processing takes considerable computing resources. That is why we built Hohm on top of Azure, the new cloud operating system from Microsoft. With Azure, we can easily dispatch distributed high performance computing resources on demand as users visit our application."

In July, Microsoft finally announced its consumption-based pricing model for the Windows Azure Platform. Some people expect the more concrete pricing model to build interest in Azure. Many workshops and sessions are planned at PDC09 in November, along with a not so secret Bob Muglia keynote that will officially announce the commercialization of Windows Azure, .NET Services (excluding workflow) and SQL Azure.

Last month, Microsoft released Project Riviera on CodePlex, the first Azure line-of-business reference app, developed in collaboration with ISV partner Cumulux. Designed to support a Customer Loyalty Management program, the sample code uses multi-tenant storage via the Windows Azure Table and SQL Azure, Silveright 3 and several other technologies. Of particular interest is Project Riviera's use of Federation, the Geneva Framework and an upcoming Security Token Service, a scenario that is not currently supported in the Windows Azure July CTP. Cumulux offers a video and some explanation about building Project Riviera on its Web site.

With the anniversary of Azure fast approaching, we are looking for developers who have experimented or built apps with the Azure technologies. Your experiences or comments may find their way into the November cover story of Visual Studio Magazine. Tell us what you've learned or want to know about building software for the Azure cloud. Express your comments below or drop me a line at [email protected]

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/08/2009

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