I wanted to learn more about cloud services and decided to focus on Microsoft Azure. The primary reason was I am familiar with Microsoft technologies. I was also interested in the hybrid cloud approach of running domain joined virtual machines in Azure. I am sure Amazon Web Services has many of the same cloud features but figured Azure would be the best platform for Windows Server and SQL Server.
I started a 30 day trial account which included $200 of billing. So, I started created test services.
The first issue was the fact that there were two portal to manage your account. I guess this is fine as the new portal looks “Metro” like and I assume will become the primary in the future.
A great introductory resource is this eBook.
Here is my observation on the services I looked at:
- Website running WordPress
- The creation process was straightforward. The weird thing was I had to create a MySQL database using a different service from ClearDB. The free database has a limit of 20 MBs. Unfortunately, some of my current databases are already bigger than that. The next level up is a 1 GB database for $10 a month. This is fine but my current account at Media Temple for $20 allows for 100 databases.
- I went ahead and finished the installed. WordPress loaded fine.
- I wonder if Azure is the best platform for WordPress since a LAMP application but would probably be fine for a small site except that the free website plan doesn’t allow for custom domain names.
- SQL Server
- The creation process was also straightforward. I think it is cool you can connect directly from SQL Server Management Studio.
- Backup Vault
- This service looked very interesting but wonder if it can work with Backup Exec.
- I created a new Blob Storage. I reviewed the intro PDF and then created a container which is similar to a folder. I wasn’t sure how to upload a blog or a file. But, I found an explorer program called Azure Storage Explorer. That allowed to me to upload a test file. Next, I wasn’t able to access the file but when I created the container, I set the security to Private. I changed that to “Blob” and then the URL worked.
- Resource Groups
- When I was doing my cleanup off all the test services, I realized that Resource Group hold everything related to a service. So, deleting them cleaned up everything. So, will try to create an individual resource group for each permanent service.
- The creating went fine. I downloaded the WebMatrix tool and it made it very easy to create a new websites. I also figured out how to create and access a website via Visual Studio.
- Virtual Machines
- Again, creation was straightforward. I found the smallest VM spec barely had enough RAM to run at 750 MBs. The next tier up seemed necessary to do anything with the server.
- I created a data disk which is just another VHD file. It was linked to a storage account.