Getting Started with Windows Azure

Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.” – (Source: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/overview/what-is-windows-azure/)

This post is written considering any individual who is new to Windows Azure. It might initially seem a big task to get the tools and start programming. But it’s not that difficult, you can prepare your machine quickly and deploy a website into cloud before you know! You can build solutions on Windows Azure using various technologies like .NET, Java, PHP, Python, Node.js and Ruby. However, this post will discuss only .NET, to learn about others, you can refer the resources available here.

This post will give a quick introduction on how to setup the machine to develop for Windows Azure, obtain a trial subscription for Windows Azure.

STEP 1: Get the tools

Tools Required: You will need a Visual Studio with Windows Azure SDK.

  1. In Visual Studio, open New Project dialog
  2. Choose Cloud node under language of Choice under Installed Templates
  3. If Windows Azure SDK is not installed, you will see – “Get Windows Azure SDK for .NET”, if you have Windows Azure SDK installed, you’ll be able to create a project from this template.
  4. If you don’t have the Windows Azure SDK, click on “Get Windows Azure SDK for .NET” and proceed with the prompts to download and install the SDK.
  5. Once you have the SDK, you are all set to go Cloud!

STEP 2: Get a Windows Azure Subscription

  1. You can get a free one month trial subscription of Windows Azure worth $200
  2. You’ll need a Windows Live ID
  3. Go to: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/free-trial/ to get a free trial subscription, you’ll need credit card details just for identity verification. The card will not be charged unless expense limit is explicitly removed and the spending crosses the $200 free credit received with trial subscription.
  4. Once you get the Windows Azure Subscription, you can manage the subscription @ http://manage.windowsazure.com/

STEP 3: Configuring Windows Azure Subscription with Visual Studio Windows Azure Tools

  1. Once the SDK installed, Visual Studio will have the tools to manage Windows Azure Subscription.
  2. Add subscription to the Windows Azure tools in the Server Explorer to manage the Windows Azure account.Windows Azure in Server Explorer
  3. Clicking on “Connect to Windows Azure” will show a Windows Live Login Popup. Login with the Windows Live ID having an active Windows Azure Subscription.
  4. The Server Explorer enables all the features that the Windows Azure Management Portal provides.
  5. Clicking the “Manage Subscriptions” will give information of current subscription configured.

STEP 4: Publishing a Website to Azure

  1. A website can be easily published to Windows Azure just as we publish it to a local or a remote IIS server
  2. When the Subscription is Configured, a publish profile can be imported to publish the website to an existing site on Azure or create a new website and publish. It’s just a few clicks and you can publish a website to azure with the same ease as we publish to any other IIS server.Azure Website Publish
  3. A website can be easily published in the above manner. If there are any websites on the azure subscription connected, they will be listed in the dropdown in the 3rd step above, else a new website can be created (step 4) and the publish profile will be downloaded.
  4. Once the publish profile is selected and “Publish” button is hit on the “Publish Web” dialog, the website is instantly published to the Azure and goes live. As per the above steps, a new website will be created @ abhijitsblog {dot} azurewebsites {dot} net

Congratulations! You now know how to publish a website to cloud!

I’ve compiled a lot of online resources which will help learn Windows Azure. It includes a lot of Video Courses, links to official websites/blogs, and a Video tour of Inside Microsoft Windows Azure Datacenters! All these links are in a small rtf document, you can download it here.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Started with Windows Azure

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