Deploying Applications to Windows Azure

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Deploying applications to Windows Azure is basically a publishing process similar to the one that involves classic ASP.NET applications, but it differs in the target place (the cloud) and in the application files. Right-click the Azure project in Solution Explorer (in our example it is AzureBookstore) and click Publish in the pop-up menu. Visual Studio generates a Publish subfolder under the Bin\Debug or Bin\Release (depending on your output configuration) where required files are stored; moreover, Visual Studio launches Windows Explorer pointing to this new folder so that you can easily understand what files are required. Also, Visual Studio launches your Web browser opening the Windows Azure Developer Portal ( on the Internet, which is the place where you administer deployments. This requires you to log in with your Windows Live ID. Figure 1 shows the login page.
Figure 1. The login page to the Windows Azure Developer Portal.

When logged in, you can choose what cloud services you want to administer (for example Windows Azure, .NET Services, or SQL Azure) other than seeing available projects, if any. Figure 2 shows this Welcome page.

Figure 2. The Welcome page in the Windows Azure Developer Portal.

Ensure that Windows Azure is selected on the left. Now click the New Service link. This opens a new page where you can decide to create a new Hosted Service (that enables deploying a Web application) or a new Storage Account (which enables creating storages for blobs, tables, and queues), as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Choosing between a storage account and a hosted service.

Click Hosted Services to publish the sample application. In next page you need to type a label and a description for the service. See Figure 4 for an example.

Figure 4. Providing service label and description.

Click Next. The subsequent step is really important because it is the place where you can customize your application’s address on the Internet. Windows Azure’s domain is, where CustomName is the name you provide for your application. In this example I’m using my name, so the complete application address will be Replace my name with yours and check if the address is available with the Check Availability button. You can then choose the data center location, such as northern and southern regions in the United States. By the way, for this example select Anywhere US, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Specifying the application address.



Due to recent changes to the Windows Azure Service Platforms, the list of available locations may vary including countries other than the United States. Visit the Windows Azure official website ( for detailed information.

When you click Create, the new service is created and ready to receive the application deployment. The deployment can be of two types: staging and production, as also represented in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Deployment types in Azure.

The Staging deployment is intended for configuration and testing purposes. After ensuring all works correctly, you can move the application to the Production state. You could also directly deploy your application to the Production state, but this is not always the best choice. Now click the Deploy button for the Staging deployment. On the next page you have to specify the Application Package and the Configuration Settings. Both files are stored in the Publish folder previously described. As an alternative you can indicate files from an online Azure storage. The application package is a file with .cspkg extension and contains all the required application files in one package. The configuration file has .cscfg extension and contains information on the web roles involved in your application. Figure 7 shows how you indicate both files with regard to the current example.

Figure 7. Providing deployment information.

Also specify a label for the current deployment. This is free text. At this point you can click the Deploy button and wait until the deployment process is completed; this process can last several minutes, so be patient. When the process is finished, the application is not running yet. Click Run to make your application run in the Staging deployment and wait until the WebRole1 shows a green circle and the Ready word (see Figure 8).

Figure 8. The staging deployment is completed.

There is a new link named Web Site URL. This is a temporary address for your application that you can use for your testing purposes. If you click it, the Web browser will attempt to run the application in its staging state, but in this particular example, you will see nothing. The reason is that, obviously, the Web browser searches for the Default.aspx page that is empty in our example because we created a new page for hosting a Silverlight page. Append /BookStoreTestPage.Aspx to the web address. After a few seconds, the sample application is correctly shown in the Web browser, as demonstrated in Figure 9.

Figure 9. The sample application running in the staging context.

Replacing the Default.Aspx Page

If you want to make your Silverlight application start automatically, in Solution Explorer remove the Default.aspx page and rename the test page for Silverlight (in our example it is named BookStoreTestPage.Aspx) into Default.Aspx and set it as the start page.

Close the Web browser to return to the Azure administration page. If you want to edit the application configuration file, click Configure. This opens a new page showing the configuration file content within an editable text box. Click Suspend if you want to stop running the application keeping it in the cloud; instead click Upgrade if you want to upload a new version of the application. At this point, supposing all works correctly, we can move the application to the production state, by simply clicking the rounded button at the center of the page. After a few seconds the application is available on the cloud, and it is reachable on the Internet (see Figure 10 for details).

Figure 10. The application has been moved to the production deployment.

Now you can finally run the application on the cloud. The sample application is, in this case, To ensure the correct page is shown, the full address is Figure 11 shows the application running from the Windows Azure location.

Figure 11. The application running from Windows Azure in the production deployment.

With a few steps you successfully published a Web application to Windows Azure making it reachable from the Internet. If you plan on building data-centric applications requiring SQL Server database, the suggestion is that you visit the SQL Azure Developer Portal where you can find lots of information about creating and consuming databases on the cloud. You can find the portal here:


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