Continuous Integration in the Cloud

At the recent At the Movies Event put on by ObjectSharp, I demonstrated how to automate deployment of Windows Azure Applications in a TFS Build using a custom TFS Workflow Activity. Automated Deployment to Windows Azure is useful functionality as it replaces a rather tedious repetitive task from our daily routine.

There are a number of ways to automate the Deployment Process to Windows Azure. In this entry I’ll outline how you can use TFS Builds or Powershell to Automate Windows Azure Deployments.

Using TFS Build Activities to Deploy to Windows Azure

To begin Automating Windows Azure Deployments today, download the Deploy To Azure open source project on CodePlex. To understand how to use the Deploy to Azure Activities on Codeplex, read .

Deploying a Windows Azure Applications is considered Management Functionality, this means it is required to upload a Management Certificate to your Windows Azure Account. This Management Certificate [can be Self Signed and] is used to Authenticate access to your Windows Azure Portal  Remotely [Read: How to Create and Export a Certificate].

Once you have your Management Certificate uploaded to the Windows Azure Portal, you will be able to use the Certificate to interact with the Windows Azure Service Management API. If you wish to build your own set of TFS Build Activities like the ones mentioned above Microsoft has created some Sample Code which is a .NET Wrapper of the Management API.

Using Powershell to Deploy to Windows Azure

If you’re an IT Pro or a Developer that is into scripting, it is possible to use powershell to deploy to Windows Azure. Ryan Dunn while he was in the Technical Evangelist role at Microsoft [recently moved to Cumulux] created a set of Commands in the Azure Management Tools Snap-in which allow you to leverage the Windows Azure Service Management API using Powershell. Since Ryan’s Departure Wade Wegner has taken over the project and has been maintaining the updates to the CommandLets with each change of the Windows Azure SDK.

Powershell is very powerful and I can see it becoming a very important part of Windows Azure Development. Just to give the Windows Azure Commandlets a try a created a re-usable powershell script that will deploy an application to Windows Azure. [This script needs to be executed from the same directory as the ServiceConfiguration.cscfg file, or modified to accept the path of the Service Configuration file as an argument.]

As you can see the New-Deployment command will only upload your deployment, it is necessary to execute a second command Set-DeploymentStatus in order to Start your Application after it’s been deployed to the Cloud.

Conclusion

Automating deployment of your applications into Windows Azure is a great way to take repetitive time intensive tasks our of your day to day schedule. Whether using TFS or another Source Code Repository and Automated build agent automated deployment is available to you.