Deploying your Database to SQL Azure (and using ASP.Net Membership with it)

Its been quite quiet around here on the blog. And the reason for that is the fact that I got asked by a Herbalife Distributor to put a little e-commerce site together (its called flying Shakes). So its been a very busy few weeks here, and hopefully as things settle down, we can get back to business as usual. I’ve badly neglected the blog and the screencast series.

I have a few instructive posts to write about this whole experience, as it presented a few unique challenges.

Now. I’m staring at the back end here since deploying the database to SQL Azure was the difficult part of deployment. The reason for this is mainly due to the ASP.Net Membership database.

But we’ll start from the beginning. Now I’m assuming here that your database is complete and ready for deployment.

Step 0: Sign up for Windows Azure (if you haven’t already) and provision a new database. Take note of the servers fully qualified DNS address and remember  your username and password. You’ll need it in a bit.

Step 1 Attach your database to to your local SQL Server. Use SQL Server  Management Studio to do that.

At this point  we have our two databases  and we need to transfer  the schema and data from one to the other. To do that, we’ll use a helpful little Codeplex project called SQL Azure Migration Wizard. Download it and unzip the files.

Run the exe. I chose Analyse and Migrate:



Enter your Local SQL Server details:





Hit Next until it asks if you’re ready to generate the SQL Scripts. This is the screen you get after its analyse the database and complied the scripts.


Now you get the second login in screen that connects you to your newly created SQL Azure Database.

This is the crucial bit. You have to replace SERVER with your server name in both the server name box and the Username box, replacing username with your username in the process. You need to have @SERVER after your username or the connection will fail.


Fill in the rest of your details and hit Connect. Press next and at the next screen you’ll be ready to execute the SQL scripts against your SQL Azure database.

And its that easy.

All you have to do is to go ahead and change your connection string from the local DB to the one hosted on SQL Azure.

There is one last thing to do. When you first deploy your site and try and run it against SQL Azure, it won’t work. the reason being is that you have to set a firewall rule for your SQL Azure Database by IP Address range. So you should receive an error message saying that IP address such and such is not authorised to access the database. So you just need to go ahead and set the appropriate rule in the Management Portal. You’ll need to wait a while before those settings take effect.

And you should be good to go.


The ASP.Net Membership Database

In the normal course of events, you can setup Visual Studio to run the SQL Scripts against whatever database you have specified in your connection string when you Publish your project. However, there is a big gotcha. The SQL Scripts that ship with Visual Studio will not run against SQL Azure. This is because SQL Azure is restricted.

Even if you log into your SQL Azure database using SQL Management Studio you’ll see that your options are limited as to what you can do with  the database from within SQL Management Studio. And if you try and run the scripts manually, they still wont run.

However, Microsoft has published a SQL Azure friendly set of scripts for

So we have two options: We can run the migrate tool again, and use the Membership database  to transfer over Schema and Data. Or we can run the scripts against the database.

For the sake of variety, I’ll go through the scripts and run them against the database.

  1. Open SQL Management Studio and log into your SQL Azure Database.
  2. Go File-> Open and navigate to the folder the new scripts are in.
  3. Open InstallCommon.sql and run it. You must run this before running any of the others.
  4. For Membership run the scripts for Roles, Personalisation, Profile and Membership.

At this point I need to point out that bad things will happen if you try running your website now, even if your connection string has been changed. will try and create a new mdf file for the membership database. You get this error:

An error occurred during the execution of the SQL file ‘InstallCommon.sql’. The SQL error number is 5123 and the SqlException message is: CREATE FILE encountered operating system error 5(failed to retrieve text for this error. Reason: 15105) while attempting to open or create the physical file ‘C:\USERS\ROBERTO\DOCUMENTS\VISUAL STUDIO 2010\PROJECTS\FLYINGSHAKESTORE\MVCMUSICSTORE\APP_DATA\ASPNETDB_TMP.MDF’. CREATE DATABASE failed. Some file names listed could not be created. Check related errors. Creating the ASPNETDB_74b63e50f61642dc8316048e24c7e499 database…

Now, the problem with all this is the machine.config file where all of these default settings actually reside. See internally, it has a LocalSQLServer connection string. And by default, the RoleManager will use it because its a default setting. Here’s what it looks like:

<add name="LocalSqlServer" connectionString="data source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Integrated security=SSPI;AttachDBFilename=|DataDirectory|aspnetdb.mdf;User Instance=true" providerName="System.Data.SqlClient"/>	</connectionStrings>
<processModel autoConfig="true"/>	
<add name="AspNetSqlMembershipProvider" type="System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a" connectionStringName="LocalSqlServer" enablePasswordRetrieval="false" enablePasswordReset="true" requiresQuestionAndAnswer="true" applicationName="/" requiresUniqueEmail="false" passwordFormat="Hashed" maxInvalidPasswordAttempts="5" minRequiredPasswordLength="7" minRequiredNonalphanumericCharacters="1" passwordAttemptWindow="10" passwordStrengthRegularExpression=""/>			</providers>		
<add name="AspNetSqlProfileProvider" connectionStringName="LocalSqlServer" applicationName="/" type="System.Web.Profile.SqlProfileProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"/>			</providers>
<add name="AspNetSqlRoleProvider" connectionStringName="LocalSqlServer" applicationName="/" type="System.Web.Security.SqlRoleProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"/>				<add name="AspNetWindowsTokenRoleProvider" applicationName="/" type="System.Web.Security.WindowsTokenRoleProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"/>

So, we have to overwrite those settings in our own web.config file like so:

<roleManager enabled="true" defaultProvider="AspNetSqlRoleProvider"> 
<add name="AspNetSqlRoleProvider" connectionStringName="..." type="System.Web.Security.SqlRoleProvider, System.Web, Version=, Culture=neutral...."/> 
<add name="AspNetSqlMembershipProvider" type="System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.... connectionStringName=""..../>        </providers> 
<add name="AspNetSqlProfileProvider" connectionStringName="" type="System.Web.Profile.SqlProfileProvider..../>

Now, what we are doing here is simply replacing the connectionstringaname attribute in each of these providers with our own connection string name. Before that, however, we put “<clear/>” to dump the previous settings defined in the machine.config file and force it to use our modified settings.

That should  allow the role manager to use the our SQL Azure database instead of trying to attach its own. Things should run perfectly now.


The Azure Management Portal has a very nice UI for managing and editing your database. You can add and remove tables, columns rows etc. Its really good. And rather welcome. I thought I’d have to script every change and alteration.

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