Author: Eugenio Pace, Dominic Betts, Scott Densmore & Ryan Dunn
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2010
Aimed at: Intermediate .NET developers
Pros: Practical, good level of explanation, useful code
Cons: A gimmicky presentation
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong
This is a very strange book. If you just give it a quick flick through then your first impression is that you have just picked up a cartoon book aimed at dummies. If you look more carefully you will notice blue panels that contain what looks like C# code. On closer inspection it is indeed C# code and if you look even closer some PowerShell scripts as well. What to make of a book that has two such different levels of presentation?
Chapter 1 starts off this a simplified introduction of Azure and cloud computing in general. This starts out being vague but it quickly gets into technical detail. It explains the basic structure of an Azure application, blobs, tables and queues and the all important billing model.
Chapter 2 starts a case study - the Adatum Scenario. Basically the study is all about an expense tracker complete with SQL database and Active Directory. Chapter 3 is about moving this existing application to Azure. This is explained right down to listing and explaining the code that Visual Studio creates and you customize. At the end of the chapter the basic application has been converted to Azure.
Chapter 4 goes on to consider the costs of running the application. After this the chapters concentrate on elaborating the basic application. Chapter 5 describes how to set up automatic deployment from a local development system to the real Azure. The bulk of the chapter is about moving the SQL database to Azure Table storage - mainly because it is cheaper. Chapter 6 deals with uploading images and adding a worker role. Chapter 7 is about Life Cycle Management - short sweet and to the point. Chapter 8 looks at expanding the application further and tuning and this brings this short book to a close after 120 pages.
I'm still not sure about the use of a cast of characters. They are introduced in the preface together with their distinct roles, software architect, senior developer etc. However, like many readers, that's a section I skipped and so to me they came across as random cartoon people. Some of the speech bubbles do contains some pithy hints and warnings, but you could just as easily drop the graphics and raise the apparent reading age by a few years. If the point it to try to suggest that the book is for non-technical readers then this is going to fail as soon as they hit actual words. The book is surprisingly technical for such a short work. It doesn't succeed in convincing me that Azure is simple or easy to use, but it does it best. It is also noteworthy for taking into account the all-important question of how much does this all cost.
At the end of the day - yes it is an odd book, but if you are looking for an introduction to moving an app to Azure this is a very good choice.