Book Review: Microsoft Silverlight 5 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration

I finally got the time to finish reading and reviewing the book Microsoft Silverlight 5 and Windows Azure Enterprise Integration. By the way, the initial promotion of the book is up at the end of May, so now would be a good time to go buy.

My high level summary is this:

I think this book is an outstanding read and resource for developers and architects who are getting started with Windows Azure and what is involved in building cloud-based solutions. It does a great job of covering most of the capabilities exposed by the Windows Azure platform, and tying them into a Silverlight application context through the samples presented throughout the chapters. You do not have to be a Silverlight client developer to benefit from this book – any .NET developer who wants to start building applications leveraging the Windows Azure cloud can start with this book to get a great sense of what the individual features of Windows Azure are and how they can tie into either a web-based front end client like Silverlight or ASP.NET or even how to tie them in with back-end services that support something like a WPF or Metro client app (even though those are not explicitly covered in the book).

I won’t do a chapter-by-chapter break down of the book, a quick look at the TOC will give a good sense of what is covered. One of the main downsides to this book I think is the title. It is less about Silverlight than it is about Windows Azure (and as mentioned, you definitely don’t need to be a Silverlight developer to get a lot out of the book if you are new to Azure), and the “Enterprise Integration” part of the title is kind of vague and misleading. The “integration” part is one of the strong aspects of the book, it does a good job of first educating you on what each of the Windows Azure services is, and then shows how to build applications that leverage one or more of those services in an integrated fashion.

You are not going to learn how to build Silverlight applications from this book, or even become an expert in Windows Azure. Each feature of Azure really needs a book unto itself to achieve expert level knowledge in it. But this book is great for building the big picture of what each Windows Azure capability is, what it does for your architecture, how to use it from a basics perspective, and also how to tie it in with other Azure services and your application architecture.

Some of the things you get expose to in the book are:

- How to get your development environment set up to do Azure development, as well as a good survey of related and useful tools for building Silverlight and web client application on Azure

- A good survey of all the Windows Azure features

- How to get web client and Silverlight client applications and services hosted in Windows Azure web roles

- Working with Azure queues, blob storage, and tables

- Working with SQL Azure, Entity Framework, WCF RIA Services, and OData (very light coverage on the latter three, but enough to see how they fit into an Azure deployment scenario on top of SQL Azure)

- Basics of securing your Azure hosted applications

- Scaling and using AppFabric Cache

Bottom line, think it is definitely a good read for someone wanting to get their hands dirty for the first time doing some cloud Azure development, especially (but not only) if you are a Silverlight developer.

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