Working with mobile applications that reach out to cloud services can be problematic at times. But, with AZURE mobile services, things just got a whole lot easier for enterprise mobility using the cloud.
One of the difficulties in developing mobile apps for a consumer or an enterprise is the persistent storage of mobile data that is needed to finish the work at hand. Another facet to mobile development is the immediate need a business may have for an app their employees need to interact with immediately. The next logical step is to start building or exposing the back end to mobility services such as phones or tablets.
Now anyone who has been involved in such a project knows that this is not as easy as it seems. Possible, but not easy. Why? Because a business might not have the skill sets or the discipline needed to build out the solution. Or they may have an urgent need for getting the project completed quickly. In any case, we now have an amazing new solution to the problem. Microsoft AZURE Mobile services.
Now, instead of building out an SQL Database and adding all the endpoints and connections to services yourself, which is extremely time consuming, Microsoft has done much of the work for you. They do this by leveraging an existing backend within the AZURE environment to abstract all the complexities of the connected infrastructure to make the process easy and painless.
AZURE Mobile Services adds a wizard-like UI to the Management Portal which allows developers to deploy new data storage and retrieval services on Microsoft's AZURE infrastructure with just a few mouse clicks.
Newly created services are automatically associated with SQL databases within Windows AZURE, and remote applications from a Mobile device such as IOS, Android, Windows Phone or even a Windows 8 Application on the desktop, can store and retrieve data from the databases using APIs provided by the AZURE Mobile Services backend.
Security is built right in, no work involved with the exception of a few clicks. Windows Live user authentication and authorization, which means developers can restrict database interaction to authenticated users, if they so choose, is also available without any server-side coding.
A really nice feature that AZURE mobile services supports is the sending of push notifications to users, which can be triggered by small server-side scripts that execute in response to specific events. These scripts can be written and injected directly from the Portal itself.
For a company or even an individual who might want to have a quick and easy cloud storage option without a lot of up front design, time and money, this is a great option to consider.
When traffic to these services reaches a point when they need more memory, bandwidth, or CPU, migrating them to their own, dedicated virtual machines is simply a matter of flipping a switch in the services dashboard – at which time the normal Windows AZURE pricing scale kicks in, with compute capacity billed on a per-hour basis.
To get started with AZURE Mobile Services, you’ll need the following two things:
- Mobile Services SDK
- Visual Studio 2012
In addition, AZURE Mobile Services plans to publish documentation for the APIs, which would allow developers to consume the APIs from any platform and integrate support into their own libraries and toolkits, if they choose.
I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on the new AZURE Mobile Services and how you might be able to apply them in your particular environment. I’d be interested in hearing from you!
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