Tag Archives: azure

Add-AzureAccount – The Data is Invalid

I am a heavy user of PowerShell and recently I ran across an annoying problem that I didn’t find anywhere mentioned in the google. I was running the Add-AzureAccount cmdlet from the Azure PowerShell module. (Want it too? Start here. Or simply install it from the mighty Web Platform Installer.)
The Add-AzureAccount command usually pops up a login dialog so I can authenticate against my Azure account. But the behavior I was seeing never made it to that pop-up dialog – rather it quickly dumped out the following error at the command line:
Add-AzureAccount : The data is invalid.
At line:1 char:1
+ Add-AzureAccount + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   + CategoryInfo : CloseError: (:) [Add-AzureAccount], AadAuthenticationFailedException    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Commands.Profile.AddAzureAccount
As mentioned above, I could not find useful references to Add-AzureAccount “data is invalid” via search engine, so I tried a few things. I first updated to the latest module. Didn’t help me – but you can check which version you have installed as follows:
PS>    (Get-Module Azure).Version

Major  Minor  Build  Revision
-----  -----  -----  --------
0      8      11     -1
Then I tried both the -Debug and -Verbose command line options, which are often useful. But no difference in the output. So this was failing pretty early!
Since this might be related to some cached credentials, I tried deleting TokenCache.dat in case there was something funky there. Nope. Here is command to view – and then delete – TokenCache.dat:
gci "$env:APPDATA\Windows Azure Powershell\TokenCache.dat"
ri "$env:APPDATA\Windows Azure Powershell\TokenCache.dat"
Finally, a kind sole suggested I simply try hosing out cookies from IE. That worked! Since I was in a PowerShell kind of mood, here’s how I emptied the cookie jar:
RunDll32.exe InetCpl.cpl,ClearMyTracksByProcess 2
(I learned of this technique on many web sites by searching for ‘clear IE browser cache command line’.)
My problem was solved, and I am back to productively using Add-AzureAccount.
Hope this helps someone!

Where’s Azure? Mapping Windows Azure 4 years after full General Availability.

On October 27, 2008, Windows Azure was unveiled publicly by Microsoft Chief Architect Ray Ozzie at Microsoft’s Professional imageDeveloper’s Conference.

Less than a year later, on November 17, 2009, Windows Azure was unleashed on the world – anyone could go create an account.


Only a couple of months later, on January 1, 2010, Windows Azure turned on its Service Level Agreement (SLA) – you could now get production support.

And finally, on Feb 1, 2010, Windows Azure became self-aware – billing was turned on, completing the last step in them being fully open as a business.

That was 4 years ago today. Happy Anniversary Azure! I am not calling this a “birthday” since it isn’t – it was born years earlier as the Red Dog project – but this is the fourth anniversary of it being a fully-operational, pay-as-you-go, public cloud platform.

At the time, there were 6 Windows Azure data centers available – 2 each in Asia, Europe, and North America: East Asia, SE Asia, North Europe, West Europe, North Central US, South Central US. (Ignoring the Content Delivery Network (CDN) nodes which I plan to cover another time.)

What about today? With the addition in 2012 of East US and West US data centers, today there are 8 total production data centers, but more on the way.

Here’s a map of the Windows Azure data center landscape. (Source data is in a JSON file in GitHub; pull requests with additions/corrections welcome. CDN data is TBD.)

The lines between data center regions represent failover relationships drawn from published geo-replication sites for Windows Azure Storage. Mostly they are bi-directional, except for Brazil which is one-directional; the metadata on each pushpin specifies its failover region explicitly.

NOTE: this is a work-in-progress that will be updated as “official” names are published for geos and regions.

Also, be sure to click on the map pushpins to see which data center regions are in production and where are coming attractions. Not all of these pushpins represent data centers you can access right now.

There are three insets in order – first a GeoJSON rendering, second a TopoJSON rendering (which should look identical to the GeoJSON one, but included for demonstration purposes, as it is lighter weight), and the third is the raw JSON data from which I am generating the GeoJSON and TopoJSON files. [All the code is here: https://github.com/codingoutloud/azuremap. I plan to blog in the future on how it works.]

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{ "Geo" : "Asia Pacific", "Region": "Asia Pacific East", "Location": "Hong Kong", "Failover Region" : "Asia Pacific Southeast", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Asia Pacific", "Region": "Asia Pacific Southeast", "Location": "Singapore", "Failover Region" : "Asia Pacific East", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Asia Pacific", "Region": "Shanghai China", "Location": "Shanghai China", "Failover Region" : "Beijing China", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Asia Pacific", "Region": "Beijing China", "Location": "Beijing, China", "Failover Region" : "Shanghai China", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Australia", "Region": "Australia East", "Location": "Sydney, New South Wales, Australia", "Failover Region" : "Australia SE", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Australia", "Region": "Australia SE", "Location": "Melbourne, Victoria, Australia", "Failover Region" : "Australia East", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "South America", "Region": "Brazil South", "Location": "Brazil", "Failover Region" : "US South Central", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Europe", "Region": "Europe West", "Location": "Amsterdam, Netherlands", "Failover Region" : "Europe North", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Europe", "Region": "Europe North", "Location": "Dublin, Ireland", "Failover Region" : "Europe West", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Japan", "Region": "Japan East", "Location": "Saitama, Japan", "Failover Region" : "Japan West", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "Japan", "Region": "Japan West", "Location": "Osaka, Japan", "Failover Region" : "Japan East", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US North Central", "Location": "Chicago, IL, USA", "Failover Region" : "US South Central", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US North Central", "Location": "Chicago, IL, USA", "Failover Region" : "US South Central", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US Central", "Location": "Iowa, USA", "Failover Region" : "US East 2", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US East", "Location": "Bristow, Virginia, USA", "Failover Region" : "US West", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US East 2", "Location": "Virginia, USA", "Failover Region" : "US Central", "Status" : "Preview" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US West", "Location": "San Francisco, California, USA", "Failover Region" : "US East", "Status" : "Production" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US Gov-Iowa", "Location": "Iowa, USA", "Failover Region" : "US Gov-Virginia", "Status" : "Preview" },
{ "Geo" : "United States", "Region": "US Gov-Virginia", "Location": "Virginia, USA", "Failover Region" : "US Gov-Iowa", "Status" : "Production" }

The map data is derived from public (news releases and blog posts for coming data centers and Windows Azure documentation for existing production regions).

The city information for data centers is not always published, so what I’m using is a mix of data directly published, and information derived from published data. For example, it is well known there is a data center in Dublin, Ireland, but where city should I used for US West region that’s in California? For the latter, I used IP address geocoding of the published data center IP address ranges. This is absolutely not definitive, but just makes for a slightly nicer map. It was from this data that I made assumptions around Tokyo and Osaka locations in Japan and San Francisco in California for US West.

Finally, this map is at the region level which equates roughly to a city (see the project readme for terminology I am using). A region is not necessarily a single location, since there may well be multiple data centers per region and though they will be “near” each other, this is not necessarily in the same city – they could be 1 kilometer apart with a city border between them.

Talk: Azure Best Practices – How to Successfully Architect Windows Azure Apps for the Cloud

Webinar Registration:

  • Azure Best Practices – How to Successfully Architect Windows Azure Apps for the Cloud @ 1pm ET on 13-March-2013
  • VIEW RECORDING HERE: http://bit.ly/ZzQDDW 


Discover how you can successfully architect Windows Azure-based applications to avoid and mitigate performance and reliability issues with our live webinar
Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud offerings provide you with the ability to build and deliver a powerful cloud-based application in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional on-premise approaches.  So what’s the problem? Tried-and-true traditional architectural concepts don’t apply when it comes to cloud-native applications. Building cloud-based applications must factor in answers to such questions as:

  • How to scale?
  • How to overcome failure?
  • How to build a manageable system?
  • How to minimize monthly bills from cloud vendors?

During this webinar, we will examine why cloud-based applications must be architected differently from that of traditional applications, and break down key architectural patterns that truly unlock cloud benefits. Items of discussion include:

  • Architecting for success in the cloud
  • Getting the right architecture and scalability
  • Auto-scaling in Azure and other cloud architecture patterns

If you want to avoid long nights, help-desk calls, frustrated business owners and end-users, then don’t miss this webinar or your chance to learn how to deliver highly-scalable, high-performance cloud applications.



The core ideas were drawn from my Cloud Architecture Patterns (O’Reilly Media, 2012) book:


Hosted by Dell:


Spoke at CT .NET User Group about Cloud Architecture Patterns for Building Cloud-Native Applications in Windows Azure

On October 9, 2012, I was pleased to speak to the Connecticut .NET Developers Group. It was really fun since the crowd was extremely engaged. 🙂 There was a lot of good back-and-forth discussion.

This was the talk abstract:

Just because we get an application to run on cloud infrastructure does not ensure that it runs well. To truly take advantage of the cloud we need to build cloud-native applications. The architecture of a cloud-native application is different than the architecture of a traditional application. A cloud-native application is architected for cost-efficiency, availability, and scalability. We will examine several key architecture patterns that help unlock cloud-native benefits, spanning computation, database, and resource-focused patterns. By the end of the talk you should appreciate how cloud architecture is more demanding than you might be accustomed to in some areas, but with high payoff such as handling failure without downtime, scaling arbitrarily, and allowing aggressive cost-optimization.

All the concepts and patterns I spoke about are also discussed in my recently released book, Cloud Architecture Patterns:

Cloud Architecture Patterns book

More info on the book is here:


If you do read the book, I’d very much appreciate a short review on Amazon.

Also, please stay in touch via twitter (@codingoutloud) or email (my twitter handle at gmail). Got Azure or Cloud questions? Feedback on the book? Please reach out.

And the slide deck I used is attached here:

Architecture Patterns for Building Cloud-Native Applications — CT.NET — 09-Oct-2012 — Bill Wilder (blog.codingoutloud.com)

Get ready to “Meet #WindowsAzure” in a live streamed event June 7 at 4:00 PM Boston time

You new to Windows Azure?
Experienced with Windows Azure?
Wondering what all  the buzz is about…

You can Meet #WindowsAzure in a live stream featuring keynote speaker Scott Guthrie (@ScottGu) along with other Azure/cloud experts. Event is June 7 at 4:00 PM Boston time (UTC-7 hours).

I will be watching and you can find discussions on the Twitters…. I am @codingoutloud, the event hashtag is #MeetAzure, and be sure to check out the Lanyard page that Magnus set up.

Also if you are an Azure fan in the Boston area, please check out the Boston Azure cloud user group (www.bostonazure.org). The group meets monthly, with occasional special events, such as the 2-day bootcamp later this month. The group events are usually at NERD in Cambridge, MA.


  1. www.meetwindowsazure.com
  2. Registration page: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9809415
  3. Live Stream page: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=9809426
  4. Boston Azure cloud user group: www.bostonazure.org

MEET Windows Azure Blog Relay:

Why Don’t Windows Azure Libraries Show Up In Add Reference Dialog when Using .NET Framework Client Profile?

You are writing an application for Windows – perhaps a Console App or a WPF Application – or maybe an old-school Windows Forms app.  Every is humming along. Then you want to interact with Windows Azure storage. Easy, right? So you Right-Click on the References list in Visual Studio, pop up the trusty old Add Reference dialog box, and search for Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient in the list of assemblies.

But it isn’t there!

You already know you can’t use the .NET Managed Libraries for Windows Azure in a Silverlight app, but you just know it is okay in a desktop application.

You double-check that you have installed Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 1.2 (June 2010) (or at least Windows Azure SDK 1.2 (last refreshed from June in Sept 2010 with a couple of bug-fixes)).

You sort the list by Component Name, then leveraging your absolute mastery of the alphabet, you find the spot in the list where the assemblies ought to be, but they are not there. You see the one before in the alphabet, the one after it in the alphabet, but no Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient assembly in sight. What gives?

Look familiar? Where is the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient assembly?

Confirmation Dialog after changing from Client Profile to full .NET

Azure Managed Libraries Not Included in .NET Framework 4 Client Profile

If your eyes move a little higher in the Add Reference dialog box, you will see the problem. You are using the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile. Nothing wrong with the Client Profile – it can be a friend if you want a lighter-weight version of the .NET framework for deployment to desktops where you can’t be sure your .NET platform bits are already there – but Windows Azure Managed Libraries are not included with the Client Profile.


Bottom line: Windows Azure Managed Libraries are simply not support in the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile

How Did This Happen?

It turns out that in Visual Studio 2010, the default behavior for many common project types is to use the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile. There are some good reasons behind this, but it is something you need to know about. It is very easy to create a project that uses the Client Profile because it is neither visible – and with not apparent option for adjustment – on the Add Project dialog box – all you see is .NET Framework 4.0:

The “Work-around” is Simple: Do Not Use .NET Framework 4 Client Profile

While you are not completely out of luck, you just can’t use the Client Profile in this case. And, as the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile documentation states:

If you are targeting the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile, you cannot reference an assembly that is not in the .NET Framework 4 Client Profile. Instead you must target the .NET Framework 4.

So let’s use the (full) .NET Framework 4.

Changing from .NET Client Profile to Full .NET Framework

To move your project from Client Profile to Full Framework, right-click on your project in Solution Explorer (my project here is called “SnippetUploader”):


From the bottom of the pop-up list, choose Properties.


This will bring up the Properties window for your application. It will look something like this:


Of course, by now you probably see the culprit in the screen shot: change the “Target framework:” from “.NET Framework 4 Client Profile” to “.NET Framework 4” (or an earlier version) and you have one final step:


Now you should be good to go, provided you have Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio 1.2 (June 2010) installed. Note, incidentally, that the Windows Azure tools for VS mention support for

…targeting either the .NET 3.5 or .NET 4 framework.

with no mention of support the .NET Client Profile. So stop expecting it to be there!

You can’t add a reference to Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient.dll as it was not build against the Silverlight runtime

Are you developing Silverlight apps that would like to talk directly to Windows Azure APIs? That is perfectly legal, using the REST API. But if you want to use the handy-dandy Windows Azure Managed Libraries – such as Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient.dll to talk to Windows Azure Storage – then that’s not available in Silverlight.

As you may know, Silverlight assembly format is a bit different than straight-up .NET, and attempting to use Add Reference from a Silverlight project to a plain-old-.NET assembly just won’t work. Instead, you’ll see something like this:

Visual Studio error message from use of Add Reference in a Silverlight project: "You can’t add a reference to Microsoft.WindowsAzure.StorageClient.dll as it was not build against the Silverlight runtime. Silverlight projects will only work with Silverlight assemblies."

If you pick a class from the StorageClient assembly – let’s say, CloudBlobClient – and check the documentation, it will tell you where this class is supported:

Screen clipping from the StorageClient documentation with empty list of Target Platforms

Okay – so maybe it doesn’t exactly – the Target Platforms list is empty – presumably an error of omission. But going by the Development Platforms list, you wouldn’t expect it to work in Silverlight.

There’s Always REST

As mentioned, you are always free to directly do battle with the Azure REST APIs for Storage or Management. This is a workable approach. Or, even better, expose the operations of interest as Azure services – abstracting them as higher level activities. You have heard of SOA, haven’t you? 🙂

“Cloud Computing 101, Azure Style!” and “Building Cloud-Native Applications on Azure” – Two Talks I Presented at New England Code Camp 14

Yesterday I attended New England Code Camp 14 (check out the #necc14 twitter stream while it lasts). I enjoyed many talks:

  1. Maura Wilder on JavaScript Debugging (@squdgy)
  2. Jason Haley on Comparing the Azure and Amazon Cloud Platforms (@haleyjason)
  3. Jim O’Neil on Dissecting the Azure @Home Application (@jimoneil)
  4. Abby Fichtner on Lean Startups (@hackerchick)
  5. MC’d by Abby, various folks talking about their experiences at startups — 4 talks jam-packed into a fast-paced one-hour session:
    1. Vishal Kumar of savinz.com (“mint.com for shopping”)
    2. Allison Friedman (@rateitgreen) of Rate It Green (“yelp for the green building industry”)
    3. Sean Creely (@screeley) of Embedly (“make friendly embedded links”) – a Y Combinator company providing a service for turning tweets containing media links into something more user friendly (e.g., embed inline YouTube video rather than a link taking you to YouTube)
    4. Marc Held (@getzazu) of getzazu.com (“alarm clock 2.0”)

At Uno’s afterwards, I enjoyed chatting with many folks, including Veronica and Shawn Robichaud (all the way from Maine!), John from BUGC and Blue Fin, Slava Kokaev, entrepreneurs Marc, Billy, Brian, Vishal, and Dan Colon, dev evangelists Jim O’Neil and Chris Bowen, Yilmaz Rona from Trilogy, and of course Maura.

At the Code Camp, I presented twice on Azure-focused topics:

  1. Cloud Computing 101: Azure Style! – an introduction to cloud computing, and an overview of the services that Microsoft’s cloud stack offers
  2. Building Cloud-Native Applications with Azure – a mind-blowing tour of some of the changes that await the technology community as we move our world into the cloud

The Boston Azure User Group is one year old! You can follow the group on twitter @bostonazure. You can also follow me on twitter @codingoutloud. And I hope to see you at the next Boston Azure meeting on Thurs October 21 from 6:00-8:30 PM at NERD (registration and more info).

Vermont Code Camp – Building Cloud-Native Applications with Azure

I attended Vermont Code Camp 2 yesterday (11-Sept-2010) at the University of Vermont.  Many thanks to the awesome crew of Vermonters who put on an extremely well-organized and highly energetic event! I look forward to #vtcc3 next year. (Twitter stream, while it lasts: #vtcc2)

I presented a talk on Building Cloud-Native Applications using Microsoft Windows Azure. My slides are available as a PPT download and on slideshare.net.

<aside>Maura and I went to Vermont a day early. We put that time to good use climbing to the summit of Vermont’s highest mountain: Mt. Mansfield. We hiked up from Underhill State Park, up the Maple Ridge Trail, over to the Long Trail, up to the summit, then down the Sunset Ridge Trail (map). It was a really tough climb, but totally worth it. I think the round trip was around 7 miles.


Redeeming an Azure Token

At some select events (like Boston Azure Firestarter, Boston Azure User Group hands-on meeting, or even Protein Folding with Azure @home), Microsoft sometimes provides tokens for participants who wish to try out Windows Azure for real – by deploying real bits into the cloud – deploying multiple instances of Web Roles and Worker Roles, using Queue for scaling, storing data and blobs in Azure Storage and exercising SQL Azure… Some of the tokens are good for up to 4 weeks – which is awesomely convenient for really kicking the tires on Azure if you are a developer. Which I am… Here is a little guidance on getting your account set up once you have a token in hand.

Note that you will be interacting with the Windows Azure Developer Portal (or Dev Portal for short) to redeem your token and establish your temporary account. The Dev Portal is useful to learn about and get to know.

1. First visit http://windows.azure.com and log in with the provided credentials. Use the provided email address for your Windows Live ID.

(NOTE: If any of the images in this post are too small to read, click on them to see a larger version.)


2. You will see a screen like the following. Note the row with the light blue background; this background color only appears when your mouse is hovering there. Click on the Project Name that matches your token account name.


(Notice that the account owner is “waaccts@microsoft.com” – this is because you are using a Token. Azure supports having an overall account that pays the bills, then sub-accounts for developers. This is an example.)

3.  Now you are in! You can proceed to review some of the help resources lists, or click around on any of the tabs to the left. But to create a new application that you can host on the Azure cloud, you can click on the “New Service” link next to the green “+” sign.


4. After you choose “New Service” you will see the following. Note the two main options in the middle for Storage Account and Hosted Services.


Select Hosted Services to begin. Be sure to click on the words “Hosted Services” as opposed to the “Learn More” link, as they are different.

5. The next page will ask you for a name – this name will only be used to help you identify this service from a list in the developer portal, so don’t spend too much time coming up with the perfect name. You don’t need to provide anything for the Description.


After providing a name, click Next.

6.  Now you are faced with a form where the choices you make actually do matter.  Here’s what’ you’ll need to do:


Type in a “Public Service Name” – this will be the Internet-visible sub-domain from which your deployed application will be visible. For example, if you choose “foo” then your Azure Service will live at http://foo.cloudapp.net after you publish it.

After you settle on a Public Service Name (using Check Availability button as need), you also need to select a Region. Pick the “anywhere” region in your continent (or closest to your continent) such as Anywhere US and click Create.

Here’s what mine looked like before I clicked Create:


Now your Azure Service has been created.

7. You will see a screen inviting you to Deploy a Hosted Service Package. We won’t do that now (though you could if you had an application ready). Instead, we will create an Azure Storage Account. From here:


Click on the “New Service” link which is near the top-left – below the large Windows Azure logo – and you will see the same screen you saw in step 4:


This time select Storage Account and you will see the following:


Give it a name, as I did in screenshot, and click Next.

8. As in step 5, this is also an important choice, though not visible to humans visiting your site. You will need to know this address to program against it. Of course you can look it up in the Dev Portal at any time, but why not choose a logical name. Fill in the fields similar to step 5 – be sure to choose the same Region you chose with step 5 – and click Create.


9. You are now ready to build and deploy Azure applications that use Web Roles, Worker Roles, and various kinds of storage.

You will need the keys shows to programmatically access your storage.


You can always come back and look up the values of these keys, of course. Also, if a key is compromised, you can regenerate it easily, invalidating the prior one. There are two separate keys that can be used/invalidated independently. These keys are specific to this Storage Service you created; you can create more Storage Services with different keys and even use multiple of them together.