Appendix E. Programming for the Cloud

Can you hear it? Those drums beating in the programming jungle: They're getting louder and louder. All of the major vendors have begun to offer some sort of "cloud computing" services, and Microsoft is no exception.

This appendix looks at Windows Azure, a new set of tools from Microsoft for creating applications that run within their cloud. This includes the capability to create highly scalable websites, massively parallel computation tools, or some combination of the two. It looks at how creating these applications differs from the way you normally work, and some of the benefits of creating applications that run in the cloud.


Cloud computing is very much the latest buzzword in computing, but just about every vendor means something slightly different when they use it, and they're all basically right. However, a few consistent concepts emerge when discussing cloud computing:

  • The services are provided by one or more computers in a data center.

  • You can easily add new servers, typically with either a Web interface or a configuration option. These new servers are available within a few minutes of the request.

  • Any given server might be servicing requests from multiple cloud applications, without any interaction between these applications.

  • The developer creating the cloud application is usually constrained, especially in matters of reading and writing data. For example, you cannot directly read and write to the file system, and the choice ...

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