Today, Microsoft announced the availability of Azure SDK v1.2, with related tools for Visual Studio.
In my last post, I covered support for .NET 4.0, as well as the integration of IntelliTrace for Azure applications. In this post, I’ll cover deployment and monitoring.
Visual Studio makes it trivial to build an Azure application. However, unless you were using a build script configured to automate this task, publishing has been a two- (or three-) step process:
- Build and create a service deployment package using Visual Studio
- (optionally) upload the deployment package to blob storage, using an Azure storage management tool such as Azure Storage Explorer.
- Through the Azure portal, select a deployment package either from your local disk or from blob storage.
This sequence was time-consuming, and there was no easy way to check on deployment status without either watching the portal’s website or running something like a PowerShell script to keep checking on your deployment status (both of which take your fingers and eyeballs away from Visual Studio).
With the new Visual Studio tools in Azure 1.2, you now have a fully-integrated publishing setup! First, there’s the publishing wizard:
Notice, up top, that you can choose between simply creating your service package and actually deploying your service package! You’ll need to configure the wizard to know about your subscription, which requires both a subscription ID and a certificate. Just drop down the Credentials dropdown and choose Add…
Once you finish filling out the Wizard and push OK, your service will be published asynchronously from Visual Studio, and its status is shown in the new Windows Azure Activity Log:
Once the deployment is complete, you’ll see something like this in the History:
And that’s it – no switching to the portal, no manual upload to blob storage. Just… a publishing wizard.
Ok, if the Azure Tools was just baked-in deployment, I’d be happy. But wait – there’s more! Now there’s a baked-in service and storage viewer as well!
With the explorer, you’ll easily be able to view your service instances and storage data in blobs and tables. You even get filtering support. For instance, here’s a view of the WADLogs table, filtered to show all content dated after May 1:
The explorer will show you the status of your services. For instance, I can see that my WebRole1 instance is running:
I can also ask for my IntelliTrace logs from here (again, see my previous post for details).
So you might be wondering: If there’s such a good explorer built into Visual Studio, why would I need a 3rd-party tool such as Azure Storage Explorer or Cerebrata’s Cloud Storage Studio? The simple answer is that the built-in explorer is read-only. You’ll be able to view your services and storage, but you won’t be able to modify anything. 3rd-party tools will give you the ability to upload content, suspend or upgrade instances, etc.