Book Review: Microsoft Windows Azure Development Cookbook
November 5, 2011
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Apparently, this is my first public book review. A month back when PACKT Publishing asked me to do a review of this book I was delighted for couple of reasons. Firstly, I would get my hands on a book I so much wanted to read and secondly review the work of the maestro – Neil Mackenzie. If you don’t know Neil most probably you haven’t done a serious Windows Azure project🙂 . Neil is the most active person on Windows Azure MSDN Forum, maintains a comprehensive blog on Windows Azure (at times I have felt that the depth of his blog entries surpasses that of MSDN documentation) and a Windows Azure MVP we all are proud of.
Highlight of the book for me are the exercises (referred as recipes), which are to the point, with concise code snippets, cutting the unnecessary verbose. Book’s first chapter starts with a very important yet very less discussed topic – authenticating with Windows Azure Platform. Chapter covers authentication scenarios pertaining to Azure Storage, Service Management, and AppFabric (caching) covering subtle topic of storage key rotation. Second chapter gives a thorough coverage of Blob storage including Leasing and leveraging Azure CDN. Third and fourth chapter dive into Tables and Queues again discussing key topics Pagination and polling back off (we recently helped a client cut on its transactional cost using similar approach). Fifth chapter which happens to be longest chapter of the book is really packed. You would be amazed at how much information is covered in these hundred pages. Chapter covers everything about hosting on Azure – multiple websites in a single role, HTTPS support, VM Role, Azure Connect and MarketPlace DataMarket among others. Chapter sixth and seventh contains vital topics of diagnostics (your key to success on Azure Platform) and service management APIs. It’s interesting to read the PowerShell coverage of these chapters. Finally book ends with couple of chapters around SQL Azure and Azure AppFabric. I was impressed with Neil’s knowledge around SQL Server DB and detailing of DMVs (dynamic management views).
Coming to the cons of the book, depending on your experience you might feel that book could have been better organized. May be an introduction chapter or an appendix at the end providing a 360 degree overview of Windows Azure could have been helpful. Also, while recipes are compact; snippets and corresponding explanations are done separately which at times is tedious to shuffle between. Lack of screenshots might be a concern to few readers. Also few topics like Access Control Service, WCF services, etc. have lesser focus (in case those are your prime use cases).
To sum up, writing Azure book is tough, especially with the rapid release cycles and features being churned regularly. Considering that, I would commend author for his work and would strongly recommend this book to accelerate your knowledge on Windows Azure. Three hundred plus pages can easily transform you into a PRO, helping you create more effective Windows Azure solutions.
Happy Reading🙂 !!!
(P.S. You can download a sample chapter of the book from here).