Are you an active user of Windows Azure? Tried it and not convinced, or yet to give it a go? There are a whole range of resources available to help you get to grips with the Cloud and harness the power of Azure, and we have recently released a number of new free documents on top of whats already out there. More than that, we also have some free events planned to introduce the multitude of Azure services available and give you the chance to ask questions to Microsoft experts and partners. You can find a summary below, along with some great examples of how it all really works in practice.
In the world of cloud hosted computing platforms it is fair to say that Amazon have taken the lead with their Elastic Compute Cloud (ECC). The newest contender to their crown comes from Microsoft. The Azure infrastructure provides a global backbone suitable for building, deploying and managing applications and services.
As a test of the suitability of Azure for these types of deployments I chose to deploy and build a new WordPress instance from scratch. This seemed a reasonable, albeit fairly simplistic, way of testing each part of the processes in turn:
Implementing a new computing instance
Installing a standard piece of open source software
While Azure as a platform supports many more technologies including XML, ASP.NET and Node.js the standard WordPress combination of PHP and MySQL provides a test that will cover a large percentage of implementations.
The sign up process for Azure is reasonably simple for those with one of the many incarnations of a Live account. (If not creating a new account at outlook.com is fairly painless.)
Once logged in the sign up requires verification delivered via either a texted code of a phone call followed by payment details. Payment is only required where usage exceeds the fairly generous trial limits.
Shortly after you find yourself confronted with the management portal.
Azure instances fall into four general themes:
Compute: including web services and virtual machines
Creating a new instance of one of these is as simple as following the options. For this test I chose to create a new web service form the app gallery. This is a continually expanding set of pre-cast applications such as ASP.NET, Drupal and Joomla. Creating my new WordPress site is easy.
Choose WordPress and click next
Give the database a name
Keep the default “Create new MySQL database” option
Choose the region where the database is to be stored. For those of us in Europe that have to comply with data protection legislation this step should be given some serious thought
Press the tick and off you go
The new web site is then created and made available. (I’ve skipped over the WordPress setup.)
I’m sad to report that that’s it. The new instance is made available and is ready to go right here
In some ways I would have preferred a longer, more tortuous set-up. As an IT guy I can always charge more for obfuscation but in this case that won’t be possible. The only thing that remains is to try the other facilities.