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Book Review: Microsoft Silverlight 5 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration

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Book Review: Microsoft Silverlight 5 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration

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Late last year I was looking for information on Silverlight and Windows Azure and came across a RAW (preview) eBook named Microsoft Silverlight 4 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration written by David Burela (@DavidBurela) . The eBook looked to be just what I needed so I bought it and found it to be helpful. David has now finished the book which Packt has released as Microsoft Silverlight 5 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration.

There are a lot of books that go deep into Windows Azure technology, such as my Microsoft Windows Azure Development Cookbook. Going forward I think we will see more books like David’s that show how to integrate Windows Azure with other technologies such as, in this case, Silverlight. The book is targeted at Silverlight developers who want to use Windows Azure to provide back-end services such as scalable storage with the Windows Azure Storage Service and relational storage in SQL Azure.

The primary issue with using client-side technologies to access data stored in Windows Azure is authentication. Both the Windows Azure Storage Service and SQL Azure require that the caller be authenticated using either an authentication token or a password. It is not safe to expose these credentials in client-side code where they could be accessed by a malicious user. This book primarily focuses on how to use Windows Azure compute services to proxy access to secured Windows Azure features from Silverlight.

The book begins with a chapter describing how to get started with Silverlight and Windows Azure and provides information on additional tools that can facilitate development.  The next chapter provides an overview of Windows Azure. Chapter 3 brings the introductory material to a conclusion by showing how to host a Silverlight application in Windows Azure.

The book continues with a sequence of chapters describing the queue, blob and table features of the Windows Azure Storage Service. Each chapter describes the feature and then provides a fully worked out sample showing how to access it from Silverlight. Several chapters provide various ways to access SQL Azure data from Silverlight and, again, come with fully worked out samples. Techniques covered include Entity Framework, RIA Services and OData. Finally the book closes with a few chapters discussing: how to scale-out the Windows Azure service (CQRS); authentication; and the Windows Azure Caching Service.

The coverage of Windows Azure is not as detailed as would be found in a book focused exclusively on Windows Azure. However, I like that the book provides a convenient reference for various ways of accessing secured Windows Azure resources from Silverlight. Indeed, the techniques are general enough to be applicable to any client accessing secured Windows Azure resources.

(Full disclosure) Packt asked if I would be willing to review the book and provided an eBook to allow me to do so. However, as I pointed out earlier, I actually bought my own copy of the book last year. You can never have too many copies of an eBook.


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