Feasibility of iOS App using Windows Azure Service Management API?

I have been struggling with setting up an iOS (Objective-C) app which utilizes the Service Management APIs. I've successfully was able to get Storage API calls working fine, but from what I'm reading, one big difference between the two Azure APIs seems to be a matter of authentication. For reference, what I'd ideally like to do is setup a simple API call to list the Hosted Services accounts in an app (eventually geared for public deployment).

According to the API Azure documentation, the Service Management APIs require a management certificate (.cer) to be uploaded and then for the client to utilize that cert to authenticate the request. My hunch is that this will prevent an app like the one I want to create from being feasible by any means, since public users with devices containing the downloaded app won't have that cert or the ability to attach it programatically in the objective-c code.

Is my hunch correct on this? Is this a forlorn idea that should not be pursued? I would think for this to be possible, the user would be required to upload their device's cert file to Azure somehow, and then to somehow have the app use this cert for authentication. I'm a bit lost on where to even begin on that, even if it is possible. :(

Any helpful info would be greatly appreciated. I have a lot of experience in the iOS side of things, but specifically in authentication/certificates of this type, I unfortunately have minimal experience.

Thanks in advance!! -Vincent


Actually, I have an app that does exactly what you're talking about. CloudTools for Windows Azure is an iOS app that uses the Azure Management Service API to perform Azure management. It's been on iTunes for over a year.

Your question is somewhat broad, but I can tell you that the certificate issues were by far the biggest issues in designing/developing the app. You can't store the certificate in keychain, because keychain works in a manner such as this: a) you request a remote url that requires a certificate; b) that url tells you that it needs a certificate and c) keychain provides an appropriate certificate. It's a multi-request process. That won't work for Azure, because Azure service management APIs expect the initial call to include the certificate.

I require the users to add their certificate through iTunes File Sharing (steps here). Of course, they have to upload the public key portion to Azure. Then, I provide the certificate and private key with each request. I use the HTTP library ASIHttpRequest, although I believe that the latest (iOS 5.x) Apple libraries have similar functionality.

I'd be happy to provide any further details if you have any follow-up questions.

With Windows Azure, if you are using Service Management API then you really need to have certificate based authentication to create a SSL tunnel between your machine which is requesting the connection and Windows Azure Management Portal. I am not sure how wide your iOS application distribution is.

My first thought is that why would you want to deploy Windows Azure application from an iOS application, are you going to build application in iOS devices and deploy? Windows Azure Application deployment is mostly done on client machines so, Azure application management on iOS is great idea, however Application deployment from iOS not sure why. May be you are on something big here.. In both cases you really need Service Management Certificate on iOS device. If it is an enterprise app where you can let users to install Service Management certificate, it would be easier for iOS devices to use Service Mgmt API.

So if you want to use Service Management API from a client iOS app, I think the best solution will be to have WCF service hosted in Windows Azure which is configured to directly connect with your Windows Azure Portal. And from your iOS app, you just make call to your WCF service. This is very popular method to access service management API (through WCF Service) from any client app (WP7, iOS, Android) and the client side code is very light. On other hand you may need to pay to host a WCF service on Windows Azure.

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