PDC Part I: Web Deployment Tool and Free Sandbox Hosting Program

Wow – PDC was a cool conference. There are many topics to comment on so I’ll be posting a few blog entries on the PDC over the next several days.

But first, the cats out of the bag. We have been working with Microsoft over the last month to prepare for the PDC – in particular, for a session on Application Packaging and Deployment using the newest version of Web Deployment Tool. This session was given at 4:45pm on Wed, Oct 29 presented by Saad Ladki. I joined Saad on stage briefly during the presentation. (Note: Web Deployment Tool and MSDeploy are used interchangeably.)

Microsoft is putting investment into trying to ease the web application deployment scenario. For our tech support, it is common to get tickets from customers whose applications work on their local computer but, upon publishing to our web servers, their applications fail. And honestly, because our web server configurations are going to be different from a developer’s local dev environment, code will need to be updated for the live site. Think, SQL connection strings, for example.

The next-generation of MSDeploy and Visual Studio 10 will allow developers to package up their applications such that when deployed to the production site – it will just work. Extrapolating this would also mean that you can package your app and distribute it to the community. Or a software vendor could package their app and distribute the package as well.

When we first saw this in action a month ago, we were skeptical. We set up a test environment at our facility so the Microsoft team could do a real test using a real host. And after working with them, the test was successful! We saw that this may just work and it would be a great thing for all shared hosts. This would improve the customer experience in app deployment and could reduce operational support costs for hosts. It’s a win-win. In my mind, I imagine this could help decrease the ‘chasm’ in Geoffry Moore‘s technology adoption cycle.

We wanted to somehow accelerate the testing of this and try to increase feedback from developers. So, one of the surprises that we announced for the first time during this talk is a Free Sandbox Hosting Program for anyone that wants to test out the new Web Deployment Tool. You don’t have to be one of our customers. We are offering a 50mb web site with 50mb of SQL 2008. You can get the bits for MSDeploy off the IIS.net web site.

A couple more things about the beta hosting – we only set up 2000 sites so there is limited availability – on a first come first serve basis. Also, we have disabled FTP service on these accounts so that MSDeploy is the way to publish applications. The program runs until March 2009.

Where do you signup? We’ve set up a micro site for all our beta programs/features. If you go to http://labs.discountasp.net – you can get to the sign up for the Free MSDeploy Sandbox Hosting platform.

Other stuff:
Here is a link to the Press Release.
Questions and tech support for this program should be posted in the IIS.net Forum.
Microsoft General Manager of Web Platform and Tools, Bill Staples blogged about it.
Microsoft Hosting Evangelist, Deven Kampenhout also blogged about it.

Please do go out and test this out. Please do provide feedback. This will help drive this project forward and we hope that at this time next year, a lot of developers will start enjoying the process of web application deployment.

Takeshi Eto
VP Marketing and Business Development

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