Geeks With Blogs

News This is the *old* blog. The new one is at
Elton Stoneman
This is the *old* blog. The new one is at

We're in the process of delivering an enabling project to expose on-premise WCF services securely to Internet consumers. The Azure Service Bus Relay is doing the clever stuff, we register our on-premise service with Azure, consumers call into our namespace, and their requests are relayed and serviced on-premise. In theory it's all wonderfully simple; by using the relay we get lots of protocol options, free HTTPS and load balancing, and by integrating to ACS we get plenty of security options. Part of our delivery is a suite of sample consumers for the service - .NET, jQuery, PHP - and this set of posts will cover setting up the service and the consumers.

Part 1: Exposing the on-premise service

In theory, this is ultra-straightforward. In practice, and on a dev laptop it is - but in a corporate network with firewalls and proxies, it isn't, so we'll walkthrough some of the pitfalls. Note that I'm using the "old" Azure portal which will soon be out of date, but the new shiny portal should have the same steps available and be easier to use.

We start with a simple WCF service which takes a string as input, reverses the string and returns it. The Part 1 version of the code is on GitHub here: on GitHub here: IPASBR Part 1.

Configuring Azure Service Bus

Start by logging into the Azure portal and registering a Service Bus namespace which will be our endpoint in the cloud. Give it a globally unique name, set it up somewhere near you (if you’re in Europe, remember Europe (North) is Ireland, and Europe (West) is the Netherlands), and  enable ACS integration by ticking "Access Control" as a service:


Authenticating and authorizing to ACS

When we try to register our on-premise service as a listener for the Service Bus endpoint, we need to supply credentials, which means only trusted service providers can act as listeners. We can use the default "owner" credentials, but that has admin permissions so a dedicated service account is better (Neil Mackenzie has a good post On Not Using owner with the Azure AppFabric Service Bus with lots of permission details). Click on "Access Control Service" for the namespace, navigate to Service Identities and add a new one. Give the new account a sensible name and description:


Let ACS generate a symmetric key for you (this will be the shared secret we use in the on-premise service to authenticate as a listener), but be sure to set the expiration date to something usable. The portal defaults to expiring new identities after 1 year - but when your year is up *your identity will expire without warning* and everything will stop working. In production, you'll need governance to manage identity expiration and a process to make sure you renew identities and roll new keys regularly.

The new service identity needs to be authorized to listen on the service bus endpoint. This is done through claim mapping in ACS - we'll set up a rule that says if the nameidentifier in the input claims has the value serviceProvider, in the output we'll have an action claim with the value Listen. In the ACS portal you'll see that there is already a Relying Party Application set up for ServiceBus, which has a Default rule group. Edit the rule group and click Add to add this new rule:


The values to use are:

Issuer: Access Control Service
Input claim type:
Input claim value: serviceProvider
Output claim type:
Output claim value: Listen

When your service namespace and identity are set up, open the Part 1 solution and put your own namespace, service identity name and secret key into the file AzureConnectionDetails.xml in Solution Items, e.g:

<azure namespace="sixeyed-ipasbr"> 

  <!-- ACS credentials for the listening service (Part1):-->

  <service identityName="serviceProvider"



Build the solution, and the T4 template will generate the Web.config for the service project with your Azure details in the transportClientEndpointBehavior:

          <behavior name="SharedSecret">

            <transportClientEndpointBehavior credentialType="SharedSecret">


                <sharedSecret issuerName="serviceProvider"





, and your service namespace in the Azure endpoint:

        <!-- Azure Service Bus endpoints --> 

        <endpoint address="sb://"





The sample project is hosted in IIS, but it won't register with Azure until the service is activated. Typically you'd install AppFabric 1.1 for Widnows Server and set the service to auto-start in IIS, but for dev just navigate to the local REST URL, which will activate the service and register it with Azure.

Testing the service locally

As well as an Azure endpoint, the service has a WebHttpBinding for local REST access:

        <!-- local REST endpoint for internal use -->

        <endpoint address="rest"



                  contract="Sixeyed.Ipasbr.Services.IFormatService" />

Build the service, then navigate to:


- and you should see the reversed string response:


If your network allows it, you'll get the expected response as before, but in the background your service will also be listening in the cloud. Good stuff! Who needs network security? Onto the next post for consuming the service with the netTcpRelayBinding. 

Setting up network access to Azure

But, if you get an error, it's because your network is secured and it's doing something to stop the relay working. The Service Bus relay bindings try to use direct TCP connections to Azure, so if ports 9350-9354 are available *outbound*, then the relay will run through them. If not, the binding steps down to standard HTTP, and issues a CONNECT across port 443 or 80 to set up a tunnel for the relay.

If your network security guys are doing their job, the first option will be blocked by the firewall, and the second option will be blocked by the proxy, so you'll get this error:

System.ServiceModel.CommunicationException: Unable to reach via TCP (9351, 9352) or HTTP (80, 443)

- and that will probably be the start of lots of discussions. Network guys don't really like giving servers special permissions for the web proxy, and they really don't like opening ports, so they'll need to be convinced about this. The resolution in our case was to put up a dedicated box in a DMZ, tinker with the firewall and the proxy until we got a relay connection working, then run some traffic which the the network guys monitored to do a security assessment afterwards.

Along the way we hit a few more issues, diagnosed mainly with Fiddler and Wireshark:

System.Net.ProtocolViolationException: Chunked encoding upload is not supported on the HTTP/1.0 protocol

- this means the TCP ports are not available, so Azure tries to relay messaging traffic across HTTP. The service can access the endpoint, but the proxy is downgrading traffic to HTTP 1.0, which does not support tunneling, so Azure can’t make its connection. We were using the Squid proxy, version 2.6. The Squid project is incrementally adding HTTP 1.1 support, but there's no definitive list of what's supported in what version (here are some hints).

System.ServiceModel.Security.SecurityNegotiationException: The X.509 certificate chain building failed. The certificate that was used has a trust chain that cannot be verified. Replace the certificate or change the certificateValidationMode. The evocation function was unable to check revocation because the revocation server was offline.

- by this point we'd given up on the HTTP proxy and opened the TCP ports. We got this error when the relay binding does it's authentication hop to ACS. The messaging traffic is TCP, but the control traffic still goes over HTTP, and as part of the ACS authentication the process checks with a revocation server to see if Microsoft’s ACS cert is still valid, so the proxy still needs some clearance. The service account (the IIS app pool identity) needs access to:


We still got this error periodically with different accounts running the app pool. We fixed that by ensuring the machine-wide proxy settings are set up, so every account uses the correct proxy:

netsh winhttp set proxy proxy-server="http://proxy.x.y.z"

- and you might need to run this to clear out your credential cache:

certutil -urlcache * delete

If your network guys end up grudgingly opening ports, they can restrict connections to the IP address range for your chosen Azure datacentre, which might make them happier - see Windows Azure Datacenter IP Ranges.

After all that you've hopefully got an on-premise service listening in the cloud, which you can consume from pretty much any technology.

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:53 PM WCF , Azure , JSON , REST , IPASBR | Back to top

Comments on this post: Integration Patterns with Azure Service Bus Relay, Part 1: Exposing the on-premise service

# re: Integration Patterns with Azure Service Bus Relay, Part 1: Exposing the on-premise service
Requesting Gravatar...
What do you assign the proxy-server to when using the netsh command? We are getting the same x509 error
Left by SliverNinja on Nov 21, 2012 7:51 PM

Your comment:
 (will show your gravatar)

Copyright © Elton Stoneman | Powered by: