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.NET On-Premises/Cloud Hybrid Application Using Service Bus Relay


Developing hybrid cloud applications with Microsoft Azure is easy using Visual Studio 2013 and the free Azure SDK for .NET. This guide assumes you have no prior experience using Azure. In less than 30 minutes, you will have an application that uses multiple Azure resources up and running in the cloud.

You will learn:

  • How to create or adapt an existing web service for consumption by a web solution.
  • How to use the Azure Service Bus relay to share data between an Azure application and a web service hosted elsewhere.

[AZURE.INCLUDE create-account-note]

How the Service Bus relay helps with hybrid solutions

Business solutions are typically composed of a combination of custom code written to tackle new and unique business requirements and existing functionality provided by solutions and systems that are already in place.

Solution architects are starting to use the cloud for easier handling of scale requirements and lower operational costs. In doing so, they find that existing service assets they'd like to leverage as building blocks for their solutions are inside the corporate firewall and out of easy reach for access by the cloud solution. Many internal services are not built or hosted in a way that they can be easily exposed at the corporate network edge.

The Service Bus Relay is designed for the use-case of taking existing Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) web services and making those services securely accessible to solutions that reside outside the corporate perimeter without requiring intrusive changes to the corporate network infrastructure. Such Service Bus relay services are still hosted inside their existing environment, but they delegate listening for incoming sessions and requests to the cloud-hosted Service Bus. Service Bus also protects those services from unauthorized access by using Shared Access Signature (SAS) authentication.

The solution scenario

In this tutorial, you will create an ASP.NET MVC website that enables you to see a list of products on the product inventory page.

The tutorial assumes that you have product information in an existing on-premises system, and uses the Service Bus relay to reach into that system. This is simulated by a web service that runs in a simple console application and is backed by an in-memory set of products. You will be able to run this console application on your own computer and deploy the web role into Azure. By doing so, you will see how the web role running in the Azure datacenter will indeed call into your computer, even though your computer will almost certainly reside behind at least one firewall and a network address translation (NAT) layer.

The following is a screen shot of the start page of the completed web application.

Set up the development environment

Before you can begin developing your Azure application, get the tools and set up your development environment.

  1. To install the Azure SDK for .NET, click the following link:

    Get Tools and SDK

  2. Click Install the SDK for the version of Visual Studio you are using. The steps in this tutorial use Visual Studio 2013:

  3. When prompted to run or save the installer, click Run:

  4. In the Web Platform Installer, click Install and proceed with the installation:

  5. Once the installation is complete, you will have everything necessary to start developing. The SDK includes tools that let you easily develop Azure applications in Visual Studio. If you do not have Visual Studio installed, the SDK also installs the free Visual Studio Express.

Create a service namespace

To begin using Service Bus features in Azure, you must first create a service namespace. A namespace provides a scoping container for addressing Service Bus resources within your application.

You can manage namespaces and Service Bus messaging entities using either the Azure Management Portal or the Visual Studio Server Explorer, but you can only create new namespaces from within the portal.

To create a namespace using the portal:

  1. Log on to the Azure Management Portal.

  2. In the left navigation pane of the management portal, click Service Bus.

  3. In the lower pane of the management portal, click Create.

  4. In the Add a new namespace dialog, enter a namespace name. The system immediately checks to see if the name is available.

  5. After making sure the namespace name is available, choose the country or region in which your namespace should be hosted (make sure you use the same country/region in which you are deploying your compute resources).

    IMPORTANT: Pick the same region that you intend to choose for deploying your application. This will give you the best performance.

  6. Leave the other fields in the dialog with their default values (Messaging and Standard Tier), then click the check mark. The system now creates your namespace and enables it. You might have to wait several minutes as the system provisions resources for your account.

The namespace you created will appear in the management portal, though it may take a moment to activate. Wait until the status is Active before moving on.

Obtain the default management credentials for the namespace

In order to perform management operations on the new namespace, such as creating messaging entities, you must obtain credentials for the namespace.

  1. In the main window, click the name of your service namespace.

  2. Click Connection Information.

  3. In the Access connection information pane, find the connection string that contains the SAS key and key name.

  4. Make a note of these credentials, or copy them to the clipboard.

Manage a service namespace using the Visual Studio Server Explorer

To manage a namespace and obtain connection information using Visual Studio instead of the Management Portal, follow the procedure described here, in the section titled To connect to Azure from Visual Studio. When you sign in to Azure, the Service Bus node under the Microsoft Azure tree in Server Explorer is automatically populated with any namespaces you've already created. Right-click any namespace, and then click Properties to see the connection string and other metadata associated with this namespace displayed in the Visual Studio Properties pane.

Make a note of the SharedAccessKey value, or copy it to the clipboard.

Create an on-premises server

First, you will build a (mock) on-premises product catalog system. It will be fairly simple; you can see this as representing an actual on-premises product catalog system with a complete service surface that we're trying to integrate.

This project starts as a Visual Studio console application. The project uses the Service Bus NuGet package to include the service bus libraries and configuration settings. The NuGet Visual Studio extension makes it easy to install and update libraries and tools in Visual Studio and Visual Studio Express. The Service Bus NuGet package is the easiest way to get the Service Bus API and to configure your application with all of the Service Bus dependencies. For details about using NuGet and the Service Bus package, see Using the NuGet Service Bus Package.

Create the project

  1. Using administrator privileges, launch either Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 or Microsoft Visual Studio Express. To launch Visual Studio with administrator privileges, right-click Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 (or Microsoft Visual Studio Express) and then click Run as administrator.

  2. In Visual Studio, on the File menu, click New, and then click Project.

  3. From Installed Templates, under Visual C#, click Console Application. In the Name box, type the name ProductsServer:

  4. Click OK to create the ProductsServer project.

  5. In Solution Explorer, right-click ProductsServer, then click Properties.

  6. Click the Application tab on the left, then ensure that .NET Framework 4 or .NET Framework 4.5 appears in the Target framework: dropdown. If not, select it from the dropdown and then click Yes when prompted to reload the project.

  7. If you have already installed the NuGet package manager for Visual Studio, skip to the next step. Otherwise, visit NuGet and click Install NuGet. Follow the prompts to install the NuGet package manager, then re-start Visual Studio.

  8. In Solution Explorer, right-click References, then click Manage NuGet Packages...

  9. In the left-hand column of the NuGet dialog, click Online.

  10. In the right-hand column, click the Search box, type "Service Bus" and select the Microsoft Azure Service Bus item. Click Install to complete the installation, then close this dialog.

    Note that the required client assemblies are now referenced.

  11. Add a new class for your product contract. In Solution Explorer, right click the ProductsServer project and click Add, then click Class.

  12. In the Name box, type the name ProductsContract.cs. Then click Add.

  13. In ProductsContract.cs, replace the namespace definition with the following code, which defines the contract for the service:

    namespace ProductsServer
        using System.Collections.Generic;
        using System.Runtime.Serialization;
        using System.ServiceModel;
        // Define the data contract for the service
        // Declare the serializable properties
        public class ProductData
            public string Id { get; set; }
            public string Name { get; set; }
            public string Quantity { get; set; }
        // Define the service contract.
        interface IProducts
            IList<ProductData> GetProducts();
        interface IProductsChannel : IProducts, IClientChannel
  14. In Program.cs, replace the namespace definition with the following code, which adds the profile service and the host for it:

    namespace ProductsServer
        using System;
        using System.Linq;
        using System.Collections.Generic;
        using System.ServiceModel;
        // Implement the IProducts interface
        class ProductsService : IProducts
            // Populate array of products for display on Website
            ProductData[] products = 
                new []
                        new ProductData{ Id = "1", Name = "Rock", 
                                         Quantity = "1"},
                        new ProductData{ Id = "2", Name = "Paper", 
                                         Quantity = "3"},
                        new ProductData{ Id = "3", Name = "Scissors", 
                                         Quantity = "5"},
                        new ProductData{ Id = "4", Name = "Well", 
                                         Quantity = "2500"},
            // Display a message in the service console application 
            // when the list of products is retrieved
            public IList<ProductData> GetProducts()
                Console.WriteLine("GetProducts called.");
                return products;
        class Program
            // Define the Main() function in the service application
            static void Main(string[] args)
                var sh = new ServiceHost(typeof(ProductsService));
                Console.WriteLine("Press ENTER to close");
  15. In Solution Explorer, double-click the App.config file to open it in the Visual Studio editor. Replace the contents of <system.ServiceModel> with the following XML code. Be sure to replace yourServiceNamespace with the name of your service namespace, and yourKey with the SAS key you retrieved earlier from the Azure management portal:

            <add name="transportClientEndpointBehavior" type="Microsoft.ServiceBus.Configuration.TransportClientEndpointBehaviorElement, Microsoft.ServiceBus, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"/>
             <add name="netTcpRelayBinding" type="Microsoft.ServiceBus.Configuration.NetTcpRelayBindingCollectionElement, Microsoft.ServiceBus, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35"/>
         <service name="ProductsServer.ProductsService">
           <endpoint address="sb://" binding="netTcpRelayBinding" contract="ProductsServer.IProducts"
           <behavior name="products">
                   <sharedAccessSignature keyName="RootManageSharedAccessKey" key="yourKey" />
  16. Press F6 or from the Build menu, click Build Solution to build the application to verify the accuracy of your work so far.

Create an ASP.NET MVC application

In this section you will build a simple ASP.NET application that displays data retrieved from your product service.

Create the project

  1. Ensure that Visual Studio is running with administrator privileges. If not, to launch Visual Studio with administrator privileges, right-click Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 (or Microsoft Visual Studio Express) and then click Run as administrator. The Microsoft Azure compute emulator, discussed later in this guide, requires that Visual Studio be launched with administrator privileges.

  2. In Visual Studio, on the File menu, click New, and then click Project.

  3. From Installed Templates, under Visual C#, click ASP.NET Web Application. Name the project ProductsPortal. Then click OK.

  4. From the Select a template list, click MVC, then click OK.

  5. In Solution Explorer, right click Models and click Add, then click Class. In the Name box, type the name Product.cs. Then click Add.

Modify the web application

  1. In the Product.cs file in Visual Studio, replace the existing namespace definition with the following code:

    // Declare properties for the products inventory
    namespace ProductsWeb.Models
        public class Product
            public string Id { get; set; }
            public string Name { get; set; }
            public string Quantity { get; set; }
  2. In the HomeController.cs file in Visual Studio, replace the existing namespace definition with the following code:

    namespace ProductsWeb.Controllers
        using System.Collections.Generic;
        using System.Web.Mvc;
        using Models;
        public class HomeController : Controller
            // Return a view of the products inventory
            public ActionResult Index(string Identifier, string ProductName)
                var products = new List<Product> 
                    {new Product {Id = Identifier, Name = ProductName}};
                return View(products);
  3. In Solution Explorer, expand Views\Shared:

  4. Next, double-click _Layout.cshtml to open it in the Visual Studio editor.

  5. Change all occurrences of My ASP.NET Application to LITWARE's Products.

  6. Remove the Home, About, and Contact links. Delete the highlighted code:

  7. In Solution Explorer, expand Views\Home:

  8. Double-click Index.cshtml to open it in the Visual Studio editor. Replace the entire contents of the file with the following code:

    @model IEnumerable<ProductsWeb.Models.Product>
        ViewBag.Title = "Index";
    <h2>Prod Inventory</h2>
                @Html.DisplayNameFor(model => model.Name)
                @Html.DisplayNameFor(model => model.Quantity)
    @foreach (var item in Model) {
                @Html.DisplayFor(modelItem => item.Name)
                @Html.DisplayFor(modelItem => item.Quantity)
  9. To verify the accuracy of your work so far, you can press F6 or Ctrl+Shift+B to build the project.

Run your application locally

Run the application to verify that it works.

  1. Ensure that ProductsPortal is the active project. Right-click the project name in Solution Explorer and select Set As Startup Project
  2. Within Visual Studio, press F5.
  3. Your application should appear running in a browser:

Make your application ready to deploy to Azure

You can deploy your application to an Azure cloud service or to an Azure Website. To learn more about the difference between Websites and cloud services, see Azure Execution Models. To learn how to deploy the application to an Azure Website, see Deploying an ASP.NET Web Application to an Azure Website. This section contains detailed steps for deploying the application to an Azure cloud service.

To deploy your application to a cloud service, you'll add a cloud service project deployment project to the solution. The deployment project contains configuration information that is needed to properly run your application in the cloud.

  1. To make your application deployable to the cloud, right-click the ProductsPortal project in Solution Explorer and click Convert, then click Convert to Microsoft Azure Cloud Service Project.

  2. To test your application, press F5.

  3. This will start the Azure compute emulator. The compute emulator uses the local computer to emulate your application running in Azure. You can confirm the emulator has started by looking at the system tray:

  4. A browser will still display your application running locally, and it will look and function the same way it did when you ran it earlier as a regular ASP.NET MVC 4 application.

Put the pieces together

The next step is to hook up the on-premises products server with the ASP.NET MVC application.

  1. If it is not already open, in Visual Studio re-open the ProductsPortal project you created in the "Creating an ASP.NET MVC Application" section.

  2. Similar to the step in the "Create an On-Premises Server" section, add the NuGet package to the project References. In Solution Explorer, right-click References, then click Manage NuGet Packages.

  3. Search for "Service Bus" and select the Microsoft Azure Service Bus item. Then complete the installation and close this dialog.

  4. In Solution Explorer, right-click the ProductsPortal project, then click Add, then Existing Item.

  5. Navigate to the ProductsContract.cs file from the ProductsServer console project. Click to highlight ProductsContract.cs. Click the down arrow next to Add, then click Add as Link.

  6. Now open the HomeController.cs file in the Visual Studio editor and replace the namespace definition with the following code. Be sure to replace yourServiceNamespace with the name of your service namespace, and yourKey with your SAS key. This will enable the client to call the on-premises service, returning the result of the call.

        namespace ProductsWeb.Controllers
            using System.Linq;
            using System.ServiceModel;
            using System.Web.Mvc;
            using Microsoft.ServiceBus;
            using Models;
            using ProductsServer;
            public class HomeController : Controller
                // Declare the channel factory
                static ChannelFactory<IProductsChannel> channelFactory;
                static HomeController()
                    // Create shared secret token credentials for authentication 
                    channelFactory = new ChannelFactory<IProductsChannel>(new NetTcpRelayBinding(), 
                    channelFactory.Endpoint.Behaviors.Add(new TransportClientEndpointBehavior { 
                        TokenProvider = TokenProvider.CreateSharedAccessSignatureTokenProvider(
                            "RootManageSharedAccessKey", "yourKey") });
                public ActionResult Index()
                    using (IProductsChannel channel = channelFactory.CreateChannel())
                        // Return a view of the products inventory
                        return this.View(from prod in channel.GetProducts()
                                             new Product { Id = prod.Id, Name = prod.Name, 
                                                 Quantity = prod.Quantity });
  7. In Solution Explorer, right-click on the ProductsPortal solution, click Add, then click Existing Project.

  8. Navigate to the ProductsServer project, then double-click the ProductsServer.csproj solution file to add it.

  9. In Solution Explorer, right-click the ProductsPortal solution and click Properties.

  10. On the left-hand side, click Startup Project. On the right-hand side, cick Multiple startup projects. Ensure that ProductsServer, ProductsPortal.Azure, and ProductsPortal appear, in that order, with Start set as the action for ProductsServer and ProductsPortal.Azure, and None set as the action for ProductsPortal. For example:

  11. Still in the Properties dialog, click ProjectDependencies on the left-hand side.

  12. In the Projects dropdown, click ProductsServer. Ensure that ProductsPortal is unchecked, and ProductsPortal.Azure is checked. Then click OK:

Run the application

  1. From the File menu in Visual Studio, click Save All.

  2. Press F5 to build and run the application. The on-premises server (the ProductsServer console application) should start first, then the ProductsWeb application should start in a browser window, as shown in the screenshot below. This time, you will see that the product inventory lists data retrieved from the product service on-premises system.

Deploy your application to Azure

  1. Right-click on the ProductsPortal project in Solution Explorer and click Publish to Microsoft Azure.

  2. You might have to sign in to see all your subscriptions.

    Click Sign in to see more subscriptions:

  3. Sign in using your Microsoft Account.

  4. Click Next. If your subscription doesn't already contain any hosted services, you will be asked to create one. The hosted service acts as a container for your application within your Azure subscription. Enter a name that identifies your application and choose the region for which the application should be optimized. (You can expect faster loading times for users accessing it from this region.)

  5. Select the hosted service you would like to publish your application to. Keep the defaults as shown below for the remaining settings. Click Next:

  6. On the last page, click Publish to start the deployment process:

This will take approximately 5-7 minutes. Since this is the first time you are publishing, Azure provisions a virtual machine (VM), performs security hardening, creates a Web role on the VM to host your application, deploys your code to that Web role, and finally configures the load balancer and networking so your application is available to the public.

  1. While publishing is in progress you will be able to monitor the activity in the Azure Activity Log window, which is typically docked to the bottom of Visual Studio or Visual Web Developer:

  2. When deployment is complete, you can view your Website by clicking the Website URL link in the monitoring window.

    Your Website depends on your on-premises server, so you must run the ProductsServer application locally for the Website to function properly. As you perform requests on the cloud Web site, you will see requests coming into your on-premises console application, as indicated by the "GetProducts called" output displayed in the screenshot below.

To learn more about the difference between websites and cloud services, see Azure Execution Models.

Stop and delete your application

After deploying your application, you may want to disable it so you can build and deploy other applications within the free 750 hours/month (31 days/month) of server time.

Azure bills web role instances per hour of server time consumed. Server time is consumed once your application is deployed, even if the instances are not running and are in the stopped state. A free account includes 750 hours/month (31 days/month) of dedicated virtual machine server time for hosting these web role instances.

The following steps show you how to stop and delete your application.

  1. Log in to the Azure Management Portal, click Cloud Services, then click the name of your service.

  2. Click the Dashboard tab, and then click on Stop to temporarily suspend your application. You will be able to start it again just by clicking on Start. Click Delete to completely remove your application from Azure with no ability to restore it.

Next steps

To learn more about Service Bus, see the following resources:

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