With cloud computing, you can host your enterprise applications and data at an external data center that can scale to meet your computing demands. Rightfully, IT managers are apprehensive about cloud computing:
- Is my data secure?
- Will my application perform well under heavy load?
- Will my application respond slowly when accessed over the Internet to an external data center?
Microsoft Windows Azure is Microsoft's pay-as-you-use platform for cloud computing. You can use Windows Azure as an easy, inexpensive way to experiment and evaluate cloud computing for your enterprise. If you are familiar with .Net programming, just follow these steps to try out Windows Azure:
- Sign up for a Windows Live ID
- Subscribe to an Azure package and pay with your credit card. I chose the "Development Accelerator Extended" package which includes hosted SQL Server service, priced at US$118 per month (plus excess usage charges) at the time of writing.
- After activating your purchase, go to the Windows Azure Portal. If you don't see "My Projects" in the center of the page, wait a few minutes for your Azure account to be provisioned and click the link again. My account was provisioned in 5 minutes.
- Create a Windows Azure Service for hosting your application: Under "My Projects", click your project name, click "New Service", "Hosted Services". Enter a service name, e.g. "MyService". Enter the Public Service Name. Your ASP.Net Web application will be made available at http://(Public Service Name).cloudapp.net. Select the region where your application will be accessed, e.g. "Southeast Asia".
- Create a Storage Account for hosting your data: click "New Service", "Storage Account", enter a service label, e.g. "MyStorageAccount". Enter a name for the Public Storage Account Name. Select the region where your application will be accessed, e.g. "Southeast Asia".
- Download and install Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. If you have Visual Studio 2010, you may use that too.
- Download and install the Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio
- Start Visual Web Developer or Visual Studio 2010 and create a new Azure project: Click "New Project", "Visual C#", "Windows Azure Cloud Service". For ASP.Net web applications, select the "ASP.Net Web Role".
- Add your ASP.Net code under the WebRole1 project. Test your project locally: Click "Debug", "Start Debugging".
- Publish your project to the Windows Azure cloud: Right-click the CloudService1 solution, click "Publish". Under "Credentials" click "Add", enter the new certificate name. Follow the instructions to upload the certificate to the Azure Developer Portal (look under "Account" > "API Certificates") and copy the subscription ID from the "Account" tab.
- After creating your credentials, return to the "Publish Cloud Service" window and select "(Service Name) - Production" under "Hosted Service Slot". Click OK to start deploying your application to the Windows Azure cloud. Wait a few minutes for the deployment to complete.
- You may now test your application at http://(Public Service Name).cloudapp.net, using the Public Service Name that you have defined above.