Saturday, April 27, 2013

Journey to the Cloud with Windows Azure - Scenario II - Windows Azure Websites

Let’s continue from the earlier post on moving to the cloud. If you haven't checked out the previous post, you can find that here.

Scenario II:
The retail customer also has a lot of legacy applications built using .NET 2.0, .NET 1.1, ASP etc.,   While he has usage for these applications, he doesn’t have plans to migrate them to the latest versions of the framework.  Neither does he have the resources to do that, nor does he feel the necessity.  These are typically applications like Performance Management, Rewards Portal, Attendance etc., which are important but not mission critical.  And the existing technologies used then suffice the very purpose.  There are also a few open source portal applications built in Joomla and Drupal with MySQL that need to be maintained. However, managing servers for these applications is a nightmare and he would ideally  want them to be hosted in Windows Azure.

Going by our earlier post, in order to migrate an app to Azure Cloud Services, it has to be at the minimum in .NET 3.5, hence that is ruled out.

So which Azure offering best suits this scenario?

Azure Websites offer the best solution for this case. 

Azure Websites offer a fast and easy way to deploy ASP.NET 2.0 and older versions as well as ASP Applications to Virtual Machines running IIS on Windows Azure.
Another cool thing about Azure Websites is that even portals built using open source platforms such as WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, DotNetNuke and Umbraco and MySQL database.

Azure Websites offer Free, Shared & Reserved instances to choose based upon the needs.  When one signs up for a FREE Azure account, they get to host upto 10 websites for free.  Gradually as the demand for power increases, one can switch to Shared or Reserved instances.  
If you need a comparison of the Free vs. Shared vs. Reserved instance, check out

Technically FREE and Shared are similar except that Shared provides more performance for the website when hosted in Shared vs. hosting it in FREE.  The model also uses pay-as-you-go billing after 5GB Bandiwdth.  For a more detailed comparison, check out

Websites also provide additional components such as MySQL Data Storage.  You can also use Windows Azure SQL Database for storing your data.

The biggest advantage is that Websites support FTP Deployment.  So, the customer needs to just configure the FTP Ports and then publish the files. Check this article on FTP Publishing with Windows Azure Websites

If you are creating or have an ASP.NET Application that you would want to deploy on Azure Websites, its just 3 steps.
1.       Create the website in Azure portal.
2.       Download the publish profile
3.    Publish the Web Project and provide the publish profile location in the wizard and complete the deployment

For a beginner level how-to article on Azure Websites, check out 

For advanced scenarios, check out 

So, the customer now has a quick solution to have his legacy web apps run on Azure using Azure Websites option.
You can read more about Azure Websites here.

Trivia: An Azure Website hosted in FREE and Shared Mode are the same except the capacity and the load that can be handled is higher in Shared Mode. 

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