If you haven't heard, there's now a Ruby SDK for Windows Azure that provides access to Windows Azure Data Management services and some Service Bus services. For hosting Ruby web applications on Windows Azure, the officially supported method is to use a Virtual Machine running Linux. You can still use things like RubyRole to host a Ruby application in a Windows-based Cloud Service, however those aren't officially documented/supported.
The SDK is provided as the azure gem. You can install this through
gem install azure. This provides you with the bits to access storage and service bus.
Creating or managing virtual machines can be accomplished using the Windows Azure Management Portal, or from the Windows Azure Command-line Tools.
The web portal should work in any modern browser, and the command-line
tools use Node.js so they should work on most platforms as well. If you
have Node.js installed, you can get the command-line tools by running
npm install azure-cli -g and then using the 'azure' command from the command-line/bash/terminal/whatever.
Windows Azure Data Management
Windows Azure Data Management provides a variety of data storage options. The three that the SDK provides access to are:
Tables provide storage for rows of key/value pairs. Each row has a partition key, which is how data is partitioned across servers, and a row key, which uniquely identifies a row of key/value pairs within a partition. Together, these two keys allow you to retrieve a row from storage. The rest of the row can be whatever key/value pairs you want.
For more information, see How to use the Table service from Ruby.
Blobs provide unstructured file storage. Text files, images, etc. Data stored in blobs can be replicated globally using the Content Delivery Network, so it is a nice place to store static assets for your applications if you serve a global audience.
Queues provide message queue functionality. Generally you store messages there so they will be picked up by another process at a later date.
For more information, see How to use the Queue storage service from Ruby.
Windows Azure Service Bus
Service Bus is a collection of services for connecting disconnected or distributed services. The SDK provides access to the following* services:
Queues, like the Data Storage version listed above, provide messaging queuing functionality. Read Windows Azure Queues and Windows Azure Service Bus Queues - Compared and Contrasted to get a clearer picture of the differences between the two.
For more information, see How to use Service Bus Queues.
Topics and Subscriptions are a publish/subscribe queuing solution. You publish a message to a topic, which places it in a queue. Subscribers consume messages from the queue by creating a subscription against a topic. A subscription can contain filter rules, so that it will only receive messages that match the filter.
For more information, see How to use Service Bus Topics/Subscriptions.
Windows Azure Virtual Machines
For an example of setting up a Virtual Machine and deploying Ruby to it, see Ruby on Rails Web application on a Windows Azure VM or Deploy a Ruby on Rails Web application to a Windows Azure VM using Capistrano
With the Windows Azure SDK for Ruby, Windows Azure now officially supports five OSS languages for developing cloud-based solutions. It will be interesting to see what happens next with the Ruby SDK, as there's definitely room for growth for this offering.
For more information on this, as well as what other Windows Azure changes went live today, see Windows Azure: Improvements to Virtual Networks, Virtual Machines, Cloud Services and a new Ruby SDK. Also check out the Windows Azure SDK for Ruby Developer Center.