Azure Websites 101

Introduction

Microsoft Windows Azure Website is part of the so call “Azure Spring Release” which happened early July 2012. Azure WebSites came along the bunch of new components like Azure Virtual Machine and re-branding of the things like SQL Azure to Azure SQL Databases etc. Azure Components - Web Site
The position of Azure is very interesting in the so called “SaaS – PaaS  – IaaS” world. It is little above PaaS and little below SaaS. I like to use the term like it is a
SaaS offering of a PaaS”.

What’s Inside Azure Websites

Not all organizations are enterprises and not online .com / .org business require a sophisticated set up of the VMs, OS configuration, Auto Scaling features of the Cloud etc. Actually there are many online businesses that run popular open source eCommerce portals; All that they need is a better cockpit view to monitor and manage the infra of the portal with very little gears and switches plus of course their original management portal of their eCommerce site. The Azure Websites just aim and trigger that with perfection.
Azure Websites Icon

You can pick from a vast collection of predefined open source apps or setup your own ASP.net application or php application in the Azure Website. Things are simple and there are very less controls to be intimidated.

I have written a separate blog post for the list of Azure WebSite Available Apps.

Modes of Operation

Azure websites comes in 3 MODES viz FREE, SHARED and RESERVED.
FREE : Host upto 10 free sites in azure for free. Get your domain name as http://.azurewebsites.net. Your application gets served from a shared pool of Azure Sites. There is an upper bound for the usage and this is what will happen when you exceed it.
SHARED : It is the same as the FREE offering except that you get to attach a custom domain / sub domain at a nominal fees of less than ~$10 per month.
RESERVED : Your website/application gets a proper separation and isolation to give a SLA under the sizes of SMALL, MEDIUM and LARGE.

Reserved Instance Sizes

Reserved Instance Size CPU CORES MEMORY PREVIEW* PRICE PER HOUR (33% DISCOUNT) GENERAL AVAILABILITY PRICE PER HOUR
Small 1 1.75 GB $0.08 $0.12
Medium 2 3.5 GB $0.16 $0.24
Large 4 7 GB $0.32 $0.48

*Web Sites is currently in preview. The general availability date has not been announced yet.

Dashboard

Shows the controls, publishing profiles, overview of the monitoring info, usage over view of your site / application.

Monitoring

The html5 based Azure Management Portal is aimed not only at platform / web browser independence but also at the easy of use and comfort. The concept of bringing the monitoring details to be displayed in the Azure Management Portal will just make you say WOW…!

Azure Websites Monitoring Management Portal

Configuration

Framework

You get to choose the frameworks (.net 3.5 / .net 4.5 or php 5.3 / 5.4).

Domain Names

Attachment of the domain names is also part of configurations applicable for SHARED and RESERVED modes.

Diagnostics

Turn on / off for the Web Server Logging, Detailed Error Messages, Failed Request Tracing.

App Settings

A list of key-value pairs to be loaded during application start up.

Connection String

Connection String / access strings for linked resources like databases.

Default Document

Decide whether index.html or default.aspx which one to show first.

Handler Mappings

A new mappings extension for your specific needs, tell what to do with which script here.

Scaling

Change your operating MODE of FREE, SHARED, RESERVED. Alter the size of the instance and instance count here; confined only for the reserved instance.

Azure Websites Scaling Reserved Mode Management Portal

Linked Resources

A place to see and manage all your linked resources like database if applicable / attached.

Conclusion

Azure Websites makes your application either custom developed or from open source to deploy and scale in 1-2-3 steps. Deploy, Monitor, Scale with ease. This is a huge leap forward in cloud in context of, why do you need to worry about the Infra, leave that to Microsoft Azure and concentrate on your application.

References

https://www.windowsazure.com
http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/details/#web-sites

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