Microsoft Q&A with SitePoint: Azure Mobile Services

This is not an uncommon comment. My best answer is to try it out with the free trial http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/ and get a feel for what your app is using. Then try the calculator again. I find it makes more sense after I have a good idea of my architecture.

My worry about pricing that you may need some time to learn and control this technology.
I’ve seen that Microsoft gives you $200 to spend in Azure products when you register for free but… it worries me that they will go so fast that I will not have the time to really control the technology well enough to deply something that can pay for my learning and improving.

edit: I think I should do that :slight_smile:

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It is off topic :smile:

But you want to check out the Cortana services. Very good v->t in the cloud (or locally if you have a constrained vocabulary)

I assume that creating an app in various languages would be as easy (or hard) as with a regular web app… as a non-native English speaker, I certainly hope so :smiley:

@AndrewCoates Does Azure Mobile Services have anything to make internationalization easier?

Thank you @AndrewCoates for all the answers and thank you to everyone for participating! That was a very quick 30 minutes!

Andrew will be back with us on Thursday, two day’s time from now, to answer some follow-up questions on AMS and talk about Notifications as well.

I’ll post his answers to the survey questions soon.

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I assume that you’re talking about localisation, rather than a specific programming language.

Yes, the localisation support is pretty good.

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Thanks a lot for answering @AndrewCoates

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Thanks for participating, @AndrewCoates, and see you Thursday!

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@jasmine and @ophelie Thank you for organizing this session… it really went quick! :smiley:

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Thanks all - I’ve really enjoyed this

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Thanks @AndrewCoates

I’ll miss Agent but Cortana looks promising

I reckon it’s a bit of both. It’s certainly a great start for new developers, and the tutorials and documentation get you up and running quickly.

There’s lots of depth though and mastering it all takes more than a walk through the introductory tutorials.

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Haven’t tried Cortana. I do use voice to open programs and documents sometimes.

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Some great Azure case studies up at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/case-studies/

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Thanks again everyone involved in today’s Q&A session. Andrew will be back on Thursday to follow-up our AMS questions and talk to us about Notifications.

He’s been kind enough to answer the pre-submitted questions:

How does a service like this compare with using iOS Dev tools, PhoneGap, etc, to build apps? (question from Ralph)
Will you guys provide a service platform for the ordinary user to develop and design a mobile app? Can I choose to host it on a cloud service of my choice? (question from Justin)

AMS is a set of back-end services that allow you to build apps for many different mobile platforms. There are starter projects, tutorials and documentation for iOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, Xamarain.iOS, Xamarin.Android, PhoneGap, Sencha, Appcellerator, and HTML

Some of the AMS services are Azure-specific, but the basic AMS bits are ASP.NET MVC Web API, which can be hosted pretty much anywhere (especially since the announcements at the Connect(); event late last year which means you can host on Linux on MacOS as well)

I need to create an app that will allow sale reps to process payments, tabulate all sales statistics and communicate delays cancellations etc in real time accessible across all platforms with administrative log ins. What fees are involved in creating this productivity model? (question from Tia)

The pricing question depends on your system architecture, usage and, to a limited extent, location of hosting. There’s a pricing calculator on the pricing page http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/ - [you may be on a different locale from the en-us here])

Having said that, AMS is a very cost-effective pricing model.

What aspects of Microsoft Cloud Azure can you stand out that make it a better platform respect to Amazon and Google cloud offerings? What makes the Microsoft option a good candidate? (question from Alfonso)

As a developer, I want someone else to take care of as much of the bus work as possible. This makes PaaS a particularly compelling model for me as the infrastructure, the OS and the frameworks on which my application runs are taken care of for me (makes dismissive gesture). I get to concentrate on applying my unique knowledge of the problem domain. The Microsoft Azure PaaS offerings are more mature and complete than those offered by most of the competitors.

Azure Mobile Services, in particular, takes this PaaS model to the extreme with the .NET back end being a container for WebAPI controllers and the number of things that are just “taken care of” for you moving even further up the stack.

Is there anything cool that’s coming in the future that we should know about? Any new features in the works? (question from Ryan)
What are your plans for the future? (question from Steven)
The Azure team is releasing new stuff very regularly. Scott Gutherie and Bill Staples will make some announcements in the next 24 hours about some great new Developer things for Azure.

Are there any restrictions for using this in central america? I mean are there any features that won’t work in this region? (question from Renato)
Not my area I’m afraid

What is it about yourself that you could say is the true reason you enjoy working with Microsoft? (question from Matt)
There are 3 things:
o The people - both inside the company and in the customers and partners I interact with regularly I get to talk to, learn from and laugh with some of the smartest folk in the world
o The technology - I love living on the cutting edge and having to learn new things all the time.
o The company. Not just in a big-picture sense in that Microsoft is making a difference to people all over the world, but in the sense that it’s a company that really lives the values it preaches. I’m answering these questions sitting in a café in Sydney’s CBD. I can get in touch with my colleagues at the click of a button. There’s no expectation that I be in the office at a particular time, or wear particular clothes. I’m rewarded for doing smart, innovative things with even smarter, more innovative people.

For apps that need online storage, must they use Azure, or is that optional? (question from Ralph)
What back-end data stores can I talk to with Mobile Services?

The default Mobile Services app that’s created uses Azure SQL DB as the back end, but there’s really no practical limitation on the back-end store.

How easy is it to add authentication to a Mobile Services app?

Really easy :). See, for example http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/mobile-services-dotnet-backend-windows-phone-get-started-users/ (for other front-ends, just change the drop-down at the top of that page)

Can mobile services scale automatically?
Yep - you need to be on the Standard pricing tier, but then you can get your services to scale up and down automatically based on a number of parameters

How much does it cost to use Mobile Services? How can I trial AMS?

Pricing is here.
MSDN subscribers (including DreamSpark) get Azure benefits included.
Tooling is free Community edition of VS
Free trial
No sign-up website sandbox

Why use a cloud-based service with so much competition? (question from Molona)
· Economies of scale
· Availability
· Scalability
· Elasticity
· Pricing

What limitations (if any), should a developer be aware of before jumping in? (question from cpradio)
As someone who has yet to use Azure in any capacity, what are some of the things you learn after jumping in for the first time? (Examples: Having to closely monitor performance which may impact billing of services, setting it up in a way that wouldn’t scale well, so you had to set it up again, etc.) (question from cpradio)

Like any framework you use for the first time, there are lessons you’ll learn. Fortunately, there are lots of other people who have been down this path. The things that I really needed to think about when first writing cloud-based apps were:
o Designing for failure. This is good practice in any app, but particularly in the cloud, there can be many reasons for a transient failure. Your app needs to be resilient (sensible retry policies, graceful saving of local data and so on)
o Statelessness. In order for an app to scale really well, it certainly helps to have a stateless interface between the various components. This means that the components can scale independently.

Can this service be used by non-developers, or does it require programming chops? If the latter, what languages are involved? (question from Ralph)
Azure Mobile Services does require some programming knowledge. For your back-end, you can write in C#, VB.NET or Node.JS. For the front-end, you can use whatever language makes sense for the front-end platform.

Where can I go for more technical info?

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Hey @ssula, the Q&A has already happened, but if you scroll up you can read the conversation :slight_smile: