It looks like the Azure release sprints are awaiting the end of the dog days of summer, so there’s very little in the way of Azure service updates of interest to .NET developers.
But there is one update that has direct effect on things you may already be doing.
Service Bus namespace changes will affect current code
This also marks the beginning of new namespaces that sort out relays, event hubs and more typical queues / topics.
As part of this announcement, Microsoft said:
One key point to make, is that none of these changes will have any runtime impact on current namespaces. Our current portal will still support the mixed namespace types but not for long. The support lasts to help customers to successfully migrate to new namespace types under the specific services. Moving forward we want our customers to create queues and topics under the Messaging namespace type, event hub under the Event Hub namespace type and relay under Relay namespace type. (emphasis added)
At the time, I took that to mean there was no need to re-engineer my Service Bus applications to use the new namespaces:
"None of these changes will have any runtime impact on current namespaces." I hope that's true, but trust & verify. https://t.co/ZNc2YtTHCw
— Doug Vanderweide (@dougvdotcom) July 26, 2016
I missed the “but not for long” part. Microsoft should have been clearer about this: It’s now obvious to me that we eventually need to migrate current Service Bus messaging to the new namespaces, which probably means recreating them and certainly means changing code.
DevTest Labs VM counts increased
Azure continues to plow ahead with DevTest Labs, last week fixing a problem that limited DevTest Lab VMs to a single storage account and thus, no more than 40 standard VMs, and only 25 if they were tied to premium storage (i.e., SSD boot drives).
Now, DevTest Labs will automatically spin up storage accounts as needed for the VMs you create, balancing the disk load across as many new storage accounts as needed.
Azure Active Directory B2C improvements
Recently Azure announced Active Directory B2C, or “business to consumer,” which is basically a way to store application users that previously would have been stashed in a SQL Server database or the like, into Active Directory.
By storing your non-domain users in Active Directory, you can leverage the features of AD — such as federation and OAuth (e.g., Facebook / Twitter / Google logins).
Beyond that, putting users into AD makes them easier to authenticate across a variety of applications, meaning that as you expand and change services that require identity, you don’t need to re-engineer — or worse, attempt to sync — multiple data stores.
New to Azure AD B2C is support for the Easy Auth App Token Refresh API, which is basically a way to store OAuth tokens in a way that keeps them associated with your users, thus seriously reducing the overhead for managing OAuth sessions — both for you and for the client.
Microsoft notes that this is especially useful to mobile developers.
Everybody who works with OAuth fears it and practically no one understands it, but there’s no question it gets that job done. Having what is effectively a gray box help manage sessions is a real boon.
Parse Server template available
There’s a new Parse Server Azure Resource Manager template.
Parse is basically a back-end framework for building mobile apps; it takes care of the data interchange stuff needed for things like user accounts, messaging and the like.
This makes managing a mobile app’s infrastructure much easier, and Azure’s high availability / disaster recovery features make running Parse Server there very attractive.
Facebook, which bought Parse in 2013, pulled the rug out in January, but released the project to open source; basically telling developers, “You don’t have to find a different back-end framework, but you can’t stay here.”
Azure has all the services needed to run Parse, but knowing what and how to spin them up is pretty foreign to the average mobile developer, so the ARM template is a nice add.
Odds and ends
- On the subject of mobile apps and Azure: If you use Apache Cordova to build and host your backend in Azure, there’s an SDK release candidate available.
- There’s a pile of new Powershell cmdlets for Azure Scheduler.
- If you’re using Azure Automation runbooks to Powershell your resources in a hybrid (e.g., part-premises, part-cloud) setup, you can now run your worker roles through a proxy.