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In-memory hosting is one of the hidden gems of ASP. While the community, forums, bloggers have been buzzing about web-host and self-host capabilities of Web API, aside from the terrific post by Pedro Felix, very little has been said about in memory hosting. Let me show you an example today, how a lightweight Web API server can be temporarily established in memory without elevated priviliges, or cannibalizing ports like self host and used to perform integration testing, allowing you to test almost the entire pipeline, from the request to the response. In memory hosting comes down to creating an instance of HttpServer class. HttpServer itself is derived from HttpMessageHandler , and can be treated like one. It allows you to perform direct communication between the server runtime, and the client side, through the use of HttpClient or HttpMessageInvoker. As soon as the purpose for the existance of the server is fulfilled, you can very easily dispose of it. All this makes in-memory hosting incredibly useful and powerful tool for various testing scenarios, especially for integration testing. From the moment the HTTP request leaves the client, all the way to the point when the response is received.
The best way to understand how this would work is to walk through a scenario: Joe runs a successful Web Agency and he currently has 2 main clients, the fabled Contoso International Corporation and the less well known Fabrikam Corporation. Joe bundles web hosting and site management as part of his contract with his clients and he uses Azure Websites to provide the hosting and management experience. His web agency is developing multiple web sites for both clients. Joe has determined that to run the websites for Contoso he would need a minimum of 5 Medium Instance Size servers 2 virtual cores, 3. On the other hand his Fabrikam contract would only need a single Small Instance Size server 1 virtual core, 1.