WEBCAST: Introduction to Hybrid Connections

Last week I uploaded our fifth webcast to the Brisbane BizTalk User Group YouTube channel, this one based on a presentation I recently gave to the Brisbane Azure User Group. It is an Introduction to Hybrid Connections, a new BizTalk Services technology that’s currently in Preview. In this 22 minute webcast you’ll learn how Hybrid Connections makes it easy to connect your Azure Web Sites and Mobile Services to your on-premises LOB systems – all with no changes to your corporate network.

mqdefault[1]Introduction to Hybrid Connections [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEgNE_-KC90]

You can also download the slide deck from SlideShare. Most of these slides are borrowed from Santosh Chandwani, a Microsoft Azure Senior Program Manager who gave the initial presentation at Tech-Ed USA the day this went live.

Enjoy!!

Gotchas When Accessing an IaaS SQL Server in an Azure Cloud Service

It’s not that uncommon a scenario… You implement a spectacular BizTalk Server integration solution with well-designed Business Activity Monitoring, and you want to expose all that BAM goodness out through a custom-designed Web application built with HTML5, etc.

What might make this scenario slightly less common is when you’re hosting the BizTalk Server infrastructure in Azure. In this case, your custom Web application needs to be hosted within the same virtual network in order to access the BAM databases – unless of course you want to expose your SQL Server to the world by establishing a TCP endpoint on a port like 1433 (usually not a great idea).

Establishing that connectivity should be trivial – and it probably is if you get past a few potential stumbling blocks. I thought I might list some of them here in hopes that it may be helpful to others who try this.

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User Group Presentation on Hybrid Connections

Last week I had the privilege to present on Hybrid Connections at the Brisbane Azure User Group meeting. It was well attended and the community responded very enthusiastically to the ease at which this technology enables you to connect Azure Web Sites and Mobile Services to on-premises resources behind your corporate firewall. One attendee was so excited by the feature that he stayed back after the meeting with his laptop and proceeded to deploy his web site application to Azure right there on the spot, hooking it up in minutes to his on-premises database!

highres_399395482 I’d like to express my gratitude to Santosh Chandwani, a Microsoft Azure Sr. Program Manager who shared his slide deck with me and gave some very helpful tips in preparing my demo. The slides are available on SlideShare if you wish to view the presentation as I presented it, or you can download the original version that Santosh presented at Tech Ed USA.

Santosh also promptly answered some questions raised by the community which I posted on the Azure Advisors Yammer group:

Q: Seems expensive to get more than 5 HC connections?
A: “If there are specific Dev-Test scenarios where the 5 Free HC don’t suffice, please let us know.”

Q: What are the performance/load specifications? Any guidance on where potential bottlenecks may be, and/or best practice guidelines?
A: “In general, the throughput you can achieve with HC is constrained by the internet connectivity between the on-prem network and Azure. Since this is part of the user’s network infrastructure, it is hard for us to provide a specific throughput baseline.
We recommend users assess the throughput that each instance of the on-prem Hybrid Connection Manager provides on their network. Adding more instances may provide higher throughput (again depending on the network infrastructure). Also, for production scenarios, at least 2 instances are recommended for resiliency. ”

Stay tuned for an upcoming webcast about this on the BrizTalk YouTube Channel!

UPDATE: Webcast published!! View it here.

The exception message is: A base address with the uri scheme ‘net.pipe’ needs to be specified if using service management endpoint ‘ServiceManagementNetPipeEndpoint’

This post was extremely useful today while troubleshooting an AppFabric error with Service Bus Relays (“System.ServiceModel.ServiceActivationException: The service ‘/MyServices/MyService.svc’ cannot be activated due to an exception during compilation. The exception message is: A base address with the uri scheme ‘net.pipe’ needs to be specified if using service management endpoint ‘ServiceManagementNetPipeEndpoint’.”) There have been many other posts about this topic, but this is the first one I found that revealed the critical last step of checking the net.pipe binding on the website level (not just the application level)! Well done, Sajid!!

The Code Authors

AppFabric uses this magically generated service endpoint when we configure the services to start automatically.

Problem
System.ServiceModel.ServiceActivationException: The service ” cannot be activated due to an exception during compilation. The exception message is: A base address with the uri scheme ‘net.pipe’ needs to be specified if using service management endpoint ‘ServiceManagementNetPipeEndpoint’. Verify a base address exists on the site and the protocol is enabled on the application.. —> System.Configuration.ConfigurationErrorsException: A base address with the uri scheme ‘net.pipe’ needs to be specified if using service management endpoint ‘ServiceManagementNetPipeEndpoint’. Verify a base address exists on the site and the protocol is enabled on the application.

Solution.
Under the advanced settings of the service make sure net.pipe configured as one of the enabled protocols.

appfabricnetpipeerror1

Still see the same error??

Check if the website has this binding enabled.

appfabricnetpipeerror2

And verify this binding is enabled as protocol on website level.

appfabricnetpipeerror3

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Using Azure Hybrid Connections to Consume an On-Premises WCF Service from the Cloud

Microsoft introduced Hybrid Connections a few weeks ago, a [currently] free version of BizTalk Services that allows you to seamlessly connect Web Sites and Mobile Services hosted in Azure to LOB systems residing within your organisation’s network. Similar to Service Bus Relays, there is no need to open inbound firewall ports as a locally installed agent can establish the connection to Azure from within your network. To help support this feature, Microsoft also introduced a free tier of BizTalk Services specifically to accommodate Hybrid Connections.

The most obvious question asked by most is, “Will this replace Service Bus Relays?”.  After all, they do seem very similar in concept. Michael Stephenson wrote an excellent blog post addressing this very question and identifying the key differences as well as the situations you would most likely choose one technology over the other.

What has sparked my post here is that the only examples I found highlighting this new feature were aimed at connecting to on-premises databases. While this is certainly impressive and useful (especially since your Azure Web Site can use the exact same connection string you would use for on-premises access!), it left me wondering how Hybrid Connections could be used to expose WCF Services within an internal network – without the need for configuring relay bindings.  My interest in this capability has arisen from some recent experiences building hybrid solutions for our clients:

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Service Bus Queue/Topic Partitioning Not Supported in BizTalk Services

The other day my esteemed colleague Bill Chesnut & I were configuring EDI agreements for a client using Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS). Because we were testing in an isolated development environment, we redirected the actual vendor routing to some Service Bus queues that we created so that we could inspect the messages.

The solution was already routing some messages to pre-existing queues (e.g. for suspended messages) and they were all working just fine. However all messages bound for the new queues we set up were failing with this error message in the tracking database:

This client is not supported for a partitioned entity. The client version should be greater or equal than version ‘2013-10’..58ca562e-49ef-4c92-823d-1a219c3f52bd_G8

This is odd… the new queues were created the same way as the existing ones were, using the “Quick Create” method in the Azure Management Portal. So what was different?

Thankfully it was Bill who remembered a relatively new feature in Service Bus – the addition of partitioned entities for increasing throughput by employing multiple message brokers and stores, introduced late last year. You can find out more details about how this works here.

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BizTalk Services – EDI Agreement Deployment Errors

This week I’ve been frustrated by “unknown exception” errors whilst trying to deploy an X12 EDI agreement to Windows Azure BizTalk Services. The generic message was of course extremely helpful in isolating the problem:

WABS_AgreementDeploymentError

(“Error: An error occurred while deploying the agreement. Details: Service encountered an unknown exception..”)

It happened that a recent tweet by Microsoft MVP Sam Vanhoutte proved that I wasn’t alone in my angst, as did this entry on the MSDN Azure forum. Unlike SGSJWS however, switching browsers didn’t solve my issue. Sam’s helpful advice to check all configuration items, however, did eventually lead me to closer inspection where I discovered the cause.

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BizTalk Integration Summit 2013 (USA) – BizTalk is Alive & Well!

Just enjoyed an awesome experience at the BizTalk Integration Summit in Seattle with my esteemed colleagues Bill Chesnut and Dean Robertson! Not only did I have the opportunity to meet most of the top BizTalk experts in the world for the first time (including Sandro Pereira, Tord Glad Nordalh, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Saravana Kumar, Richard SeroterKent Weare, Michael Stephenson, Stephen Thomas, Jon Fancey and others), but we were there to hear Scott Guthrie personally announce the General Availability of Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) just minutes before the news went public:

IMG_1663

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WEBCAST: Integrating BizTalk 2013 with Service Bus Queues & Topics

I’ve just uploaded my latest production on the Brisbane BizTalk YouTube Channel, bringing our library up to four webcasts now! This presentation shows how easy it is to integrate BizTalk Server 2013 with Windows Azure Service Bus queues & topics, facilitating the creation of powerful hybrid applications:

Integrating BizTalk with Windows Azure Service Bus Queues & Topics[ http://youtu.be/jQefUBvc4Dk ]

You can also download the slide deck (complete with notes) from SlideShare [ http://www.slideshare.net/dtoomey/integrating-biztalk-2013-with-windows-azure-server-bus-queues-topics ]

Really loving my new RØDE Podcaster USB microphone, and also Camtasia 8.1 which makes editing these videos so easy!

Final Day at TechEd Australia 2013

Today was the final day of TechEd Australia, and I was privileged to attend probably the most relevant session to my chosen specialty area, apart from BizTalk Bill‘s WABS presentation yesterday. Brady Gaster from the Windows Azure SDK team gave a terrific presentation on integrating Windows Azure Websites with On-Premises Systems. billed as a discussion on “various techniques of connecting a Windows Azure Web Site to an on-premises enterprise architecture”. It certainly did not disappoint!

Brady demonstrated the use of Windows Azure Service Bus topics and relays in order to connect a website hosted  application to on-premises systems and databases by running iterative solutions based on an “Enterprise Pizza Store” concept. He used a Service Bus topic to accept orders from photo 2the website and process them, with multiple subscriptions based on the processing status. He then progressed to using Service Bus relays to expose services that perform the database operations rather than having external sources update the data directly. Finally, he included a “surprise demo” that exhibited the use of the Windows Azure SDK for Java, using a Java client to log messages.

All the demos were very smooth and impressive, and effectively demonstrated how easy it is to leverage cloud resources to implement hybrid solutions that cross organisational boundaries. All the code (excluding the “surprise”  Java demo) can be found here on GitHub, while the slides from his USA version of this presentation can be found on Channel9. He also has an extensive blog post on this. I highly recommend checking it out!

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